By DARRELL LOVELL
Toronto FC may be struggling to win games in Major League Soccer, but on Wednesday night they continued their winning ways in the Canadian Championships, earning a victory with a lineup made up mostly of reserve players.
TFC defeated the Montreal Impact, 2-0, on Wednesday night, with Doniel Henry and Andrew Wiedeman providing the second-half strikes to give the defending Canadian champions the first-leg victory in their semifinal series.
The match provided a good showcase for TFC’s young talent, including Henry and rookies Kyle Bekker and Emery Welshman.
Montreal also rested players, but did include key starters Patrice Bernier, Felipe Martins and Justin Mapp in Wednesday’s starting lineup.
Here are some other notes from around the MLS Eastern Conference:
Sherjill MacDonald’s frustrations got the best of him Saturday. Missing on several chances the Dutchman was visibly upset when he was subbed out in the 78th minute in a scoreless game with the Crew. His frustrations provoked his teammates to have to prod him off the field, something he apologized for and chalked up to the sum of frustration in a season where he’s yet to score.
“Of course maybe out of frustration I had a reaction in the game, but I’m still a team player,” MacDonald said after training Tuesday. “Of course I want to play. It was just an emotional reaction and I apologized to the group about it. So we just move on.
“What’s really important is that in my game I feel I’m much better. So I just have to keep working and playing good.”
Federico Higuain was one of the top signings of the 2012 season. The attacking midfielder showed skill and excelled on the score sheet with five goals and seven assists in just 13 games. This season he’s getting much more attention from opposing defenses. As the league figures out how to minimize his impact, Higuain and the Crew are left to figure out how to rekindle the 2012 magic.
“It’s (about) teamwork,” Higuain said through an interpreter. “We need everybody on the team to have a good game, not one or two guys. If we do that, we’re going to be very successful. We need to improve our overall performance from everyone on the team, not just one person.”
The expected test of the Dynamo’s depth has come early and often for the Dynamo. Sunday with the team suits up to take on the Colorado Rapids they once again will be dipping into their depth chart.
Jermaine Taylor will serve a suspension for a red card foul on Toronto FC’s Robert Earnshaw while Brad Davis and Adam Moffat are battling injuries picked up in the same game. With Boniek Garcia still working his way back and Omar Cummings still reeling from his preseason knee surgery the Dynamo are getting good use of their entire roster.
While their immediate focus was on the Canadian Championship, the Impact are clear that they are pushing for to make a playoff impact this season. From this article, it could be the only season they have this compliment of players. Alessandro Nesta admits in the piece that he will likely retire at the end of the season. Also in the article is Marco Di Vaio questioning whether his time in Montreal will extend past this season.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
While there were a lot of plot lines off the field for the Revs with the Boston Marathon bombings and the impact it had on their locker room, things were status quo on the field and that’s not a good thing. The 4-1 drubbing at the hands of the New York Red Bulls left a nasty taste in the Revs mouth and has prompted a call to shore things up on the defensive side of the ball.
“In terms of the way this game went, right away we just put ourselves in a hole,” Revolution head coach Jay Heaps told the media after the game. “We had a couple missteps, a couple wrong moves, and they were clinical on their chances and we weren’t.”
NEW YORK RED BULLS
The free-flowing 4-3-3 attack in RBNY has given way to a traditional MLS-style 4-4-2 for RBNY and the club is seeing the benefits. Coming off a big win RBNY head coach Mike Petke has decided to stick with the change, at least for now. It is a system that allows for production on both ends. Although, it comes at the sacrifice of some of attractive soccer. In the New York Post article Petke admits to liking the 4-3-3 system but laments not having time in the offseason to mold the roster to that formation.
“If I was handed the job and was set on playing that system and had two or three months before the season started to prepare and make moves, I think it’d be a situation that I’d look for at least one or two players that were better suited for that system,” Petke said. “The players that we have, all of them didn’t fit in perfectly with that system.”
Emboldened by road success in D.C., Union head man John Hackworth is hoping to keep the road production going when his club visits New England on the weekend. The 3-2 win gave the Union confidence and with three road games in four weeks the Philadelphia club can use some momentum if they want to work up the standings.
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
There is a sense of uncertainty around Kei Kamara’s future at the moment. After a successful loan stint with Norwich City, Kamara and SKC are waiting to hear whether the Canaries, who are in danger of being relegated from the Barclay’s Premier League, will make the move permanent. If there is no deal, however, it’s clear that there is still a place for him with Peter Vermes’ outfit.
“We’d take him back in a heartbeat, if that winds up being the situation,” Vermes said. “But it’s like I’ve said, there are a lot of suitors out there for him. So if it’s not one, it could be another. Some of that discussion has to be with him as well, and I haven’t had those discussions with him. But there are a lot of teams out there that are interested. So we’re going to have to kind of evaluate those with him and make those decisions.”