Toronto FC, fresh off their home game stretch which saw mixed results, head off to the Emerald City, three points a clear priority. Toronto – who have been decidedly average as they rebuild – has amassed numerous tie-game results up to this point; certainly, one win in six games is not a healthy result, however, Aron Winter’s young side know that positive results are on the way.
Seattle has historically been a strong side in MLS, which is quite an achievement seeing as this will only be their third season in the league. Toronto FC has had generally positive results against Seattle, points and spoils being shared between the two. That being said, Toronto FC need to keep the following in mind if 3 points are to be won in Seattle.
Muting the Sounders
They’re loud and proud and there’s about thirty thousand of um. The Seattle Sounders fans have traditionally been quite vocal in their support for the lime-green eleven which take to the field. An early goal will keep them quiet – that is, until, say, a marching band gets them going again. Toronto can’t let the noise and atmosphere phase their resolve; this young side needs to shut it all out.
Seattle had their first shutout last week against Colorado. A leaky defense has been a persistent issue for the Sounders; scoring should not be a problem if Toronto manage to create clear-cut chances. Offense, therefore, takes a backseat; Seattle know how to score, so one goal for Toronto may not be enough. Expect either a cagey 0-0 draw or a high scoring affair.
Man-For-Man Battles Must Be Won
When dealing with a side like Seattle, every little challenge counts; giving this side space to move only causes problems. Adequate pressure and consistent marking will be crucial; the head of Adrian Cann must rise and deal with every high ball in.
Go Leafs Go
The Sounders are a side that typically score sporadically and quickly. This is why Toronto FC need to win every possible foul, battle, ball and tackle. A stop-start beginning will benefit Toronto FC at the expense of possible carding; it will unsettle Seattle while also negating the early-half blues that Toronto FC have suffered this season. The first fifteen minutes should look like a hockey game for Toronto FC.
South American technical adaptation?
Sounder's fans are growing accustomed to a much more technical style of play from Seattle; the fluidity and intelligence of players like Freddy Montero, Alvaro Fernandez and Mauro Rosales leads to an often frustrating spell of passing and possession. Clinical passes that appear seemingly out of no where are finished off by Montero and crew with relative ease; it is for this reason that Toronto FC needs to quickly adapt and counter changes in game style, as well as expect the unexpected flick, through ball or chip. Intelligence will win this game ahead of athleticism.
Do the Mourinho
Park the bus against Seattle, hit them on the counterattack, then switch to a five-man defense and see the game through. Anti-football is the kind of brand that Toronto FC may not want to be associated with, but it is vital to gain away points at any cost. This means, like Mourinho’s Madrid side, a counterattacking approach against offense-heavy Seattle could be more effective than a charged game.
Julian de Guzman has hit a bit of form lately, finally showing the kind of touches and passes which made him popular at Deportivo. De Guzman needs to continue this leadership from the midfield; he only makes the rest of the team play better when he does. The bar has been set, and for the first time, de Guzman looks like he’s ready to reach it.
No more Zakuani
As unfortunate as it is, Steve Zakuani – who has found the net for Seattle against Toronto in games past – is out with a broken leg. This will significantly reduce the pace for Seattle on the wings, allowing Toronto’s fullbacks the opportunity to push up without fear of being blinded past. Fullback play is crucial to a solid 4-3-3. Zakuani’s absence will be a mixed blessing.
When scoring a goal, it is important to remember the following MLS rules:
1. Do not exhibit any signs of happiness – this is punishable.
2. Do not remove your shirt, even if you are wearing a similar shirt underneath.
3. Hugging a fan is evil. Never hug anything.
4. No leaving the field of play unless you would like to advertise one of our sponsors/drive off in a Volkswagon.
5. Don’t take more than 10 seconds getting back (unless you’re Charlie Davies)
These rules must be etched into the players’ minds, or the entire side may see red cards. Stranger things have happened.
Maicon Santos Needs To Try
Toronto FC captain Maicon Santos needs to put more effort in the midfield. Alan Gordon has all but solidified his position as a center-forward, so Maicon’s energy must be focused onto that creative attacking midfielder mindset. Far too often Maicon stops the run of play to go back, stopping the flow of the offense. If Maicon is to remain a starter, a new kind of style must be adopted by the captain, otherwise, his spot may be filled by more capable – and younger – players like one Oscar Cordon who has made a bit of a name for himself lately.