Saturday night will mark the second time in the last two weeks that Sporting Kansas City will havefaced off against Toronto FC.
The last time the two clubs met, Sporting Kansas City were able to steal three points away at BMO Field with a late Kei Kamara goal that gave Sporting KC a 1-0 victory. Tomorrow night's match will be held at Livestrong Sporting Park, where Sporting KC were able to win 2-0 over Toronto FC in mid-June.
In anticipation for the game, I had the opportunity to ask John Leung of the SB Nation Toronto FC blog, "Waking the Red," a few questions about what has to be considered a disappointing 2012 campaign. John was nice enough to give us his thoughts on Toronto's defense, rookie Luis Silva, and his opinion on how Toronto FC will approach the third and final regular season meeting between these two teams.
A big thank you to John for his time.
1. Toronto FC have conceded the most goals in Major League Soccer with 46 so far in 2012. Can you give our readers a little bit of an idea as to why the defense has struggled this season? Can you tell us a little bit about Toronto FC's back line?
John- The simple answer is that we've simply not had the lineup stability, plus inexperience on the part of the young defenders. TFC's academy has produced the likes of Ashtone Morgan and Doneil Henry, but these are still two very young defenders---they've shown promise, but they're still very, very prone to mistakes. And they we get to the trainwreck that's known as Miquel Aceval; a pickup by Aron Winter that was bad from the start--and I don't even want to get started on Geovanny Caicedo, who literally did nothing except come and go. In Aceval and Caicedo, we had two real lemons that were expected to somehow produce.
Once those two were gone, then Morgan and Henry came up to take over-- Jeremy Hall has helped only slightly, but regardless, this has made Torsten Frings play father back than his usual position to shore up the back. That and given the fact that Frings was out for six weeks early in the season really did a number for stability. Olof Mellbergwould likely have been a great choice, and him and Darren O'Dea would be what our defense has been crying out for-- but as you know, that Mellberg move is allegedly blocked by the league as "not able to sell tickets in other markets."
So, in short-- stability, and in inexperience. That's why TFC's defense sucks. That, and a bit of help from Don Garber and MLS' front office, but that's a whole other story.
2. The last time these two clubs met, it looked as if the match would end in a draw. Sporting Kansas City were able to squeak out a win during the dying minutes of the match, but surely Toronto FC feel that the result was slightly unjust. What do you see Toronto FC manager Paul Mariner's game plan being for the match Saturday? Since the game is at Livestrong Sporting Park, do you feel Toronto FC might chose to absorb Sporting KC's pressure and look to counter attack, or do you feel Mariner might choose to play a bit more risky?
John- Given our luck, and the situation that we're in-- I'm thinking Mariner will likely go for broke and perhaps try and spoil a few results. Maybe not for that exact reason, but still-- going out with a bang would be nice, and would restore whatever semblance of confidence that supporters like us had.
Honestly, I think for Mariner this is the time for us to look towards the future. They'll likely be bringing out Freddy Hall as a backup keeper (it's likely he will be the backup behind Stefan Frei next year when he returns), while the vets will be playing out the season with nothing really left to lose, so expect us to go for broke. Might as well, given the fact that Teal Bunbury and Aurelien Collin will be out.
3. Toronto FC rookie Luis Silva has really been coming on as of late as Paul Mariner has opted to start him on a regular basis for the past month and half or so. Can you give us your thoughts on what you think of Silva as a player, and what kind of impact he has had for this Toronto team in 2012?
Silva is raw, but he's got something in him that makes me like him a lot. He's chipped in goals when they're needed, like getting his first professional goal in the first leg of the Champions league quarterfinal against Los Angeles. We see some potential in him to be a goal scorer in MLS, and when the likes of Eric Hassli and Ryan Jonson are gone, Luis Silva will likely be the one left.
This goes back to the whole point of bringing in the youth. Silva is the future up front, and he deserves those chances. When he's gotten chances, he's taken them. And man, does he look good when he does it. Plus, our options are limited as well, so sometimes there isn't a choice, but the fact that Toronto gives him those opportunities, and that he's starting, says a lot.