Home Stadium: BMO Field
Record Since 2000: 16-31-17
All Time Scorer in MLS: Danny Dichio (11)
All Time Cups/Shields: 0
2008 Record: 9-13-8, 35 pts, 7th in Eastern Conference
2008 Leading Scorer: Danny Dichio (5)
2008 Keeper: Greg Sutton (1.46 GAA, 6 Clean Sheets)
Key Player: Dwayne de Rosario, if MLS had a Hall of Fame, this Center Mid would be a lock
Capsule: While this will be a beautiful game to watch on TV on Fox Soccer Channel at 1PM on April 4th due to the huge amount of life in the stands with the Red Patch Boys, U-Sector and others; TFC will likely for its first time actually have an offense that matters as they brought back hometown boy, and finalist for one of the best MLS players in league history - Dwayne de Rosario. De-Ro has multiple championships and will be featured as a center attacking midfielder in one of the league’s best midfields. Rookie Sam Cronin joins former Barnsley player Rohann Ricketts, Honduran national Amado Guevara in an attacking offense that has more players than slots. On defense though after Marvell Wynne the Reds will struggle and Sutton will likely continue to face a rain of shots. As you watch this game think if the atmosphere is justified by the team on the field.
Further Depth: While the real competition will be the two stacked midfields, it will likely be the keepers that determine the day. Toronto has used rookie Stefan Frei in 3 halves and Sutton in the last half. Frei isn't likely to be 100% with a tweaked hip, and so I expect Sutton to start. That may be an advantage for Seattle as Sutton got beat out by a rookie, not something that happens often.
But the excitement is truly going to be the center third of the pitch. Seattle will start Freddie Ljungberg and Osvaldo Alonso, while Brad Evans, Sanna Nyassi, Sebastien Le Toux and Steve Zakuani compete for 2 or 3 slots. Why three? Because if Fredy Montero truly doesn't make the trip Seattle could implement of 4-5-1 with Ljungberg at the CAM and Evans/Alonso paired at the DM slots. Sigi holds a small card that could help sway the match. He can game the opposition with the Fredy/Freddie debate as well as juggle the idea of wing speed, or Evans as a second DM.
The Reds counter with De-Ro, Guevara and Robinson as certainities and then gets to play with having 1 or 2 of Sam Cronin, Rohan Rickets and Johann Smith. There formation won't change as they will play a classic 4-4-2, but they may push De-Ro up top to join former Fire striker Chad Barrett. Both coaches get to play the chess match with each having very flexible midfielders and forwards. Look for the players' zones to shift while the formations do not.
Toronto is playing a flat four in back these days. They stress discipline and structure, but Seattle should now the typical strategies of TFC with Sigi being on the other side of the C-Bus v Toronto battle and of course Tyronne Marshall. The Reds defense will be tested with the rapid shift to attack that Seattle practices post turnover. Toronto will also likely shift to test the Seattle defense similar to what RSL did in the 2nd half last week.
What excites me is that Toronto has the great atmosphere, but Seattle isn't a team to sit back and play for a tie. The Red Patch Boys and others will not be quieted when down on the scoreboard, but if Seattle gets up early playing their style the crowd won't matter.
This game can be watched on Fox Soccer Channel or CBUT at home, or you can join the ECS at one of their viewing parties. If you watch at home, make certain to invite your non-footie friends over, this match will have plenty of ball movement, should have scoring by both sides, and the 2nd best atmosphere in the league.