Know Your Enemy: Toronto FC

Earnshaw the dangerman for Eastern Conference foe

Enemy: Toronto

Photo Credit: 
USA Today Sports Images

FC Dallas finishes off a two-game road trip against teams in the Eastern Conference this Saturday when they head north of the border to face Toronto FC.

The Reds are off to a decent start under new manager Ryan Nelsen.  After four games they are 1-2-1 with four points. Their lone win on the season came back at Week 2 against Sporting Kansas City.

Early on the talk has been about how the Toronto defense has improved while newcomer Robert Earnshaw has been making headlines for scoring the bulk of the Toronto goals this season.

Earnshaw has scored in the last three matches for Toronto, including two in the win over Sporting KC. That performance earned him the MLS Player of the Week.

Dallas hopes to keep their winning streak alive and earn their second road win of the season.  Schellas Hyndman’s squad is 2-1-2 all-time at BMO Field, and are unbeaten in the last 10 games against Toronto in all regular season meetings.

Injury Watch

Nelsen’s squad is fairly healthy with the most notable exception being Designated Player Danny Koevermans. Everyone else is mostly at 100 percent at the moment.

Key Matchup

Robert Earnshaw vs. George John/Matt Hedges – The Welsh international has done well in his first few games with Toronto, scoring four goals. He does well at picking up on mistakes and miscues in the back. Last week against the LA Galaxy, Earnshaw picked off a bad pass from LA defender Leonardo to 'keeper Carlo Cudicini on a goal-scoring play. John and Hedges will have to be on their toes and make sure they don’t slip up any bad balls back to Raul Fernandez.

Key Player for Toronto

Luis Silva – The young midfielder is finally healthy and is proving his worth. Last week he contributed on a second half goal with a slick ball into the box that Homegrown product Jonathan Osorio was able to pounce on. Silva may not start the game but he is an electric player that can change a game whenever he is near the ball.

Projected Lineup

Dallas will see a very similar formation to the one they encountered in New England last week. Nelsen likes to use a 4-4-1-1 type of system.

Goalkeeper: Joe Bendik; RB: Darel Russell, CB: Danny Califf, Darren O’Dea, LB: Richard Eckersley; RM: Luis Silva; CM: Terry Dunfield, Jeremy Hall; LM: Reggie Lambe; AM: Hogan Ephraim; FW: Robert Earnshaw

Keys to three points

Toronto is a much-improved squad under Nelsen in 2013. Defensively thanks to Danny Califf and Darren O’Dea, they are much tougher to break down. Teams that have had success against them tend to do well with quick passes through the midfield and lots of wing play.

The Reds also do a solid job of giving Earnshaw chances but the crafty forward also makes the most of other team’s mistakes as well. The defense and midfield will have to be in constant communication for this one and not allow any mental slip-ups that could cause Earnshaw to score another easy goal on the season.

FC Dallas will want to continue on with their possession game and spread out the Reds from the opening whistle.

Gaining all three points last week in New England should have given FC Dallas the confidence that they need going forward in future road matches like this one against Toronto. The resilient nature of that win was huge and provided momentum to build off of as well.

Things are beginning to click all over the pitch for Hyndman’s team here and as long as they continue to play strong for the full 90 minutes, they should return to Dallas with three more points.