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CCL Preview: Familiar foes TFC, FCD set for Group C clash

Ty Harden and Brek Shea

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

TORONTO — The CONCACAF Champions League often involves dealing with the unknown.

But when FC Dallas and Toronto FC meet in their Group C clash on Wednesday at BMO Field (8 pm ET, Fox Soccer), it will be a meeting of foes quite familiar with one another. The teams have already met twice in Major League Soccer this season, with Dallas winning by a score of 1-0 each time.

“In CONCACAF we have started well,” Toronto FC head coach Aron Winter said on Tuesday at BMO Field. “But tomorrow we are playing against a good opponent. We know everything about Dallas.”

Both teams won their first game in Group C play with Toronto beating Tauro FC 2-1 last Thursday in Panama City and Dallas snatching a historic 1-0 result at Mexican champions Pumas UNAM last Wednesday.

“I think in the last two months with all the trades, with all the players, that we are making big steps,” Winter said. “And, of course, [Wednesday] they should see a different TFC. Those two games we played against Dallas we were a little bit unlucky. We have to do those things that we want to get some points.”

Except for a couple of cases of soreness, Winter said most of the players on his team are fit. There is the possibility that Milos Kocic could start again in goal for Stefan Frei, who has been nursing a leg injury and might be given a little more time to recover from lingering tightness.

Kocic has started all three CONCACAF matches so far, including two in the preliminary round. He also started Toronto’s 2-0 loss in Chicago on Sunday in MLS regular-season action.

“We were able to do well in Panama by getting a result,” midfielder Julian de Guzman said. “But it wasn’t the best performance. In Chicago it was a better performance, but not the result we wanted.”

FC Dallas, meanwhile, head into CCL action on the heels of a rare home loss in league play to the Seattle Sounders on Saturday. While their CCL win over Pumas last week was the first MLS victory in 25 tries in meaningful competition in Mexico, and put them in a tie with TFC atop the Group C standings, they've captured only one point in their last three league matches.

"We're excited about [the TFC game]," goalkeeper Kevin Hartman told fcdallas.com. "It's another pool game against a good Toronto team having a lot of success here within the Champions League. We really look at it as an opportunity to solidify our position."

The big news in FCD camp, however, is the impending departure of central defender George John, who appears on his way to joining English Premier League side Blackburn Rovers. John was one of the anchors of the Dallas defense during their run to the MLS Cup final last season and was again considered one of the best young defenders in the league this year. His absence on the back line will undoubtedly affect FCD's lineup Wednesday and beyond.

"It’s something he wanted to do," Hyndman said of John. "We had a lot of difficulty with this, trying to make a decision, because we know how important he is to our team.”