MLS Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, March 24, 2012
(All times Eastern)
San Jose (1-1-0) at Toronto FC (0-1-0), 1 p.m.
Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - Toronto FC failed to respond to arguably the
biggest win in franchise history last weekend, but its home opener against the
San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday offers a chance to start over in MLS play.
TFC stunned the Los Angeles Galaxy in the CONCACAF Champions League to advance
to the semifinals of that competition prior to its MLS opener, but dropped its
first league match at Seattle Sounders FC, 3-1.
Seattle was eliminated from the CONCACAF tournament just days earlier against
Mexico's Santos, the team Toronto will play in the semifinals. TFC is the only
MLS team remaining in the competition.
With that enormous task on the horizon, Toronto (0-1-0) has to stay focused on
league play and San Jose at BMO Field this weekend in the only meeting between
the clubs this season.
Once the series with Santos kicks off, then Toronto can switch focus and carry
the MLS torch.
First, it has to find a way to overcome its loss to Seattle, and the injury to
Torsten Frings. Former German international Frings was hurt in the second game
against L.A., missed the Seattle match and will be out four to six weeks.
"It's a big loss," TFC coach Aron Winter said about Frings. "Of course, we're
looking always for a player similar to Torsten for in a case of what has
"You need somebody who is a leader on the pitch and a leader outside of the
pitch. And Torsten is very important for us. But in that time we can have
solutions in our own roster."
Rookie Aaron Maund was forced into the lineup to replace Frings, but he could
not replicate what the longtime international does in midfield.
"Everyone's got to step up to the plate now, obviously," said fullback Richard
Eckersley. "Torsten is a big influence on the team and things at the back.
"I think everyone's got to get their chest out now and we're all going to
be leaders. Whoever steps into the center back position, then they've got to
do a job there if it's me or someone else."
Ryan Johnson was a bright spot from the loss to Seattle, as he scored for the
third time in as many games in all competitions. He scored in both legs of the
L.A. series and against Seattle.
San Jose opened the year with two straight home games, but with mixed results.
The Earthquakes beat the New England Revolution 1-0 in their opener, but lost
to the Houston Dynamo, 1-0, last week.
The Earthquakes hit the road for the first time this week, and forward Chris
Wondolowski said the club played well against Houston and just needed to be
better in front of goal against Toronto.
"I don't think we need to change anything," Wondolowski said. "We are creating
opportunities. If I had those three or four chances next game (that I had last
week), and I'm betting man, I'm betting a lot of money that I'm scoring those.
"I should score those, and that's why it hurts so bad that I didn't score
San Jose is unbeaten in four trips to Toronto with one win and three ties, and
another good result this week - even a draw - would be a positive step.
03/23 18:29:39 ET