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New signing gets shot at Dallas

Posted on 02 August 2008 by Scott Ferguson

FC Dallas visit BMO Field on Sunday, looking to avoid a repeat of last season’s 4-0 hammering in Toronto and cause a first Major League Soccer loss at home for TFC.

Steve Morrow was in charge when his Hoops crashed at BMO last season in a result that gave the hosts a flicker of hope in the playoff hunt. Three points is just as essential this time around for Toronto, who have faltered in recent weeks, threatening to take the gloss off what was proving to be a promising sophomore season.

Speaking of 4-0 wins, new FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman saw his side snap a four-game winless streak by hammering LA Galaxy last weekend. The former boss of Southern Methodist University’s soccer program is well-travelled, having been born in Macao, but Sunday’s trip will represent his first to Canada as a visiting coach.

Another late goal away from home was enough to sink Toronto to a 2-1 loss in Salt Lake this past Monday. The club’s dismal away form means that their notorious home advantage is crucial, with the Reds needing to make the most of the home comforts afforded by the unpredictable turf and riotous crowd by the waterfront.

Chad Barrett recently joined the club from Chicago Fire in exchange for Brian McBride, who had been briefly acquired thanks to Toronto’s place at the top of the allocation spots. With Danny Dichio still out injured and Jeff Cunningham’s future at the club far from certain, rumours are persisting of more new signings, with English frontman Paul Dickov and Canadian international striker Ali Gerba suggested as targets in recent weeks.

“Hopefully the fans will be happy that I’m here,” Barrett told reporters at his unveiling as a Toronto FC player. “It’s a great place to play, and it always lifts your game playing in front of great home fans… The fans are expecting a lot out of me and I welcome that pressure. Good players thrive on pressure.”

Captain Jim Brennan is set to take up left back duties in the long-term absence of Todd Dunivant, while Kevin Harmse is likely to join the American on the injured list for Sunday’s game with a knee problem.

Hyndman will be missing David Wagenfuhr and goalkeeper Ray Burse, while the club’s medical staff is sweating on Andrew Daniels’ fitness ahead of Sunday’s game.

Winger Arturo Alvarez recently joined Canadian manager Frank Yallop at San Jose from Dallas, leaving the club short in the midfield until he was replaced on Friday by former Ajax midfielder and Dutch international Victor Sikora. The attacker, who spent the last few seasons at NAC Breda, is unlikely to play against Toronto.

Amidst FCD’s efforts to keep hold of free-scoring striker Kenny Cooper, midfielder Juan Toja has just signed a deal with Romanian side Steaua Bucuresti. The loss of the mulleted Colombian will be a blow to the Hoops, who saw their talisman play in the MLS All-Star game in each of his two seasons in the league and even score a goal last year against Scottish side Celtic.

Toronto’s own creative midfielder Amado Guevara had what looked like a late leveller in Utah on Monday, but again the Reds lost their concentration in the dying stages of an away match. 20 000+ screaming fans means that shouldn’t be a problem at home, but finishing the team’s chances will have been high on Carver’s agenda in training this week. The team have missed a host of chances in recent weeks, with Jeff Cunningham culpable of missing more than one opportunity to take his all-time MLS regular season goal tally to 100.

Guevara will likely take to the field against some of his Toronto FC teammates when Canada take on Honduras in Montreal on September 6th in World Cup qualifying. Defender Tyrone Marshall is set to do the same during Jamaica’s August 20th visit to BMO Field, a ground he knows well. Marshall has been one of the few models of stability in TFC’s backline, having seen the players around him shuffled to accomodate for the loss of right back Marvell Wynne to the Olympics.

Centerback Julius James looked out of place in Wynne’s spot against Salt Lake and was caught out more than once, potentially opening the door for youngster Nana Attakora-Gyan to start against Dallas.

With the playoff hunt heating up more than halfway through the season, Toronto’s fans will know that another 0-0 draw at home just won’t do. A debut goal would be a great introduction for Barrett, but Cunningham’s search for 100 looks set to end in Toronto in the coming weeks, whether he finally reaches the century or finds himself waived to make room for more new arrivals.

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