Preview: Toronto open at home against improving San Jose

TORONTO FC vs SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
BMO FIELD, Toronto, Ont.

March 24, 2012 (WEEK 3, MLS Game #19)
1 p.m. ET (TSN/RDS; CSN-CA)

Toronto FC return to BMO Field for their first league match of 2012, taking on the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday afternoon in an intra-conference clash. TFC began their MLS campaign last weekend with a 3-1 loss at Seattle Sounders FC. The Quakes are on the road for the first time this season, following a First Kick win with a 1-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo in San Francisco last weekend.

REFEREE: Silviu Petrescu. SAR (bench): Darren Clark; JAR (opposite): Daniel Belleau; 4th: Geoff Gamble

MLS Career: 41 games; FC/gm: 27.8; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 8; pens: 6

COMPLETE GAME GUIDE (PDF)

INJURY REPORT: TORONTO FC — OUT: FW Nicholas Lindsay (L knee surgery recovery); DF Dicoy Williams (R knee surgery recovery); DF Jeremy Hall (sports hernia surgery recovery); MF Torsten Frings (R hamstring strain); GK Stefan Frei (L broken fibula) QUESTIONABLE: DF Adrian Cann (R knee surgery recovery) … SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES -- OUT: MF Joey Gjertsen (R knee surgery); DF Tim Ward (L non-specific soft tissue injury)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: TOR: Matt Stinson, Doneil Henry (CAN U-23) … SJ: Ike Opara (USA U-23)

SUSPENDED: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD

ALL-TIME (8 meetings): Earthquakes 2 wins, 10 goals … Toronto FC 2 wins, 11 goals … Ties 4

AT TORONTO (5 meetings): Earthquakes 1 win, 5 goals … Toronto FC 0 win, 4 goals … Ties 3

LAST YEAR (MLS):

4/9: SJ 1, TOR 1 (Dawkins 38 - Gordon 27)

8/27: TOR 1, SJ 1 (Avila 32 - Wondolowski 87)

  • This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
  • Toronto FC have never defeated the Earthquakes at BMO Field. The teams have played to three draws in Toronto, including a 1-1 tie last season; the Quakes won a 3-2 decision in 2010.
  • The home team has won just once all-time in the series, a 2-0 Earthquakes victory Oct. 25, 2008 at Buck Shaw Stadium.
  • Coaches record: Frank Yallop vs. TOR: P15 W6 L6 D3 … Aron Winter vs. SJ: P2 W0 L0 D2

TORONTO FC

Toronto FC started off their fifth MLS season with a defeat, falling 3-1 to Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday evening at CenturyLink Field.

LAST MATCH

  • Sounders FC scored their first goal of the MLS season in the 17th minute. After Alvaro Fernandez sent in a teasing cross from the left, David Estrada was the quickest to react, digging the ball out of a scrum and eventually punching it home.
  • Seattle and Estrada hit for a second six minutes after the break. Played in behind the TFC backline by Marc Burch, Estrada raced into the area unmolested and curled it past goalkeeper Milos Kocic.
  • Ryan Johnson halved the lead in the 62nd minute, setting off from near the midfield stripe before cutting square across the top of the box and hitting a stunning strike into the far corner of the goal.
  • But Estrada soon restored the margin for his hat trick. He played a quick one-two with Fernandez in the area, lashing home a right-footed shot inside the near post.
  • With Eddie Johnson out through injury, Estrada was given the starting spot in attack alongside Fredy Montero. Michael Gspurning made his MLS debut, replacing the retired Kasey Keller.

Goal of the Week: Johnson’s superb goal best of Week 2

  • Rookie Luis Silva was called upon to pull the strings in the center of midfield behind the front three, while new signing Logan Emory stepped right into the side at right back. Milos Kocic came in between the posts.

TORONTO FC (4-2-1-3): Milos Kocic - Logan Emory, Ty Harden (Danny Koevermans 46), Miguel Aceval, Richard Eckersley - Terry Dunfield, Torsten Frings (Aaron Maund 24) - Luis Silva - Nick Soolsma, Ryan Johnson, Eric Avila (Joao Plata 57).

TEAM NEWS

  • Toronto learned on Saturday that starting goalkeeper Stefan Frei will miss 8-10 weeks of action with a broken left fibula sustained during a workout session on Friday. Milos Kocic is expected to start in his place.
  • “It's a little bit disturbing, right?" Kocic said on Friday. "But I want to think about the game, I don't want to think about the injuries of Torsten and Stef now. We just want to move forward as a team and as individuals as well. It's just unfortunate these things happen in the game.”
  • Toronto FC suffered another potentially devastating loss when Torsten Frings was forced off the field midway through the first half with what was diagnosed as a hamstring strain. He will out of action for 4-6 weeks.
  • “It’s a big loss,” Winter said. “Of course, we’re looking always for a player similar to Torsten for in a case of what has happened. You need somebody who is a leader on the pitch and a leader outside of the pitch. And Torsten is very important for us. But in that time we can have solutions in our own roster.”
  • In the match in Seattle, rookie Aaron Maund stepped into the deep-lying central midfield role. Another possibility would be veteran defender Adrian Cann, but he is still questionable after undergoing offseason knee surgery.
  • “Everyone’s got to step up to the plate now, obviously,” said right back Richard Eckersley. “Torsten is a big influence on the team and things at the back. I think everyone’s got to get their chest out now and we’re all going to be leaders. Whoever steps into the center back position, then they’ve got to do a job there if it’s me or someone else.”
  • Ryan Johnson continued his rich vein of form, scoring for a third time in as many matches in all competitions this year. He scored in both legs of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal vs. LA Galaxy.
  • “I can only speak for myself,” Johnson said. “My legs were fine. I think we got enough rest. The coaches didn't work us too hard in practice so we were fresh. Every game, we're ready regardless of how soon we played a game before that. I think we need to be true professionals and be ready for the next game."
  • After starting both matches of the CCL quarterfinal tie, Stefan Frei was dropped in goal in favor of Milos Kocic. “We had to make a choice and we chose Milos,” said Winter.

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES

The San Jose Earthquakes couldn’t build upon their season-opening victory, falling 1-0 to the Houston Dynamo on Saturday afternoon at AT&T Park. The Quakes sit in a tie for sixth place in the Western Conference with 3 points from 2 games.

Lenhart: Tough day at the

LAST MATCH

  • The Dynamo took the lead after 14 minutes. Brian Ching raced into the area to run onto an Adam Moffat through ball, and when he was clattered into by goalkeeper Jon Busch, referee Chris Penso pointed to the post.
  • Brad Davis pulled the resulting penalty to his right, placing it in the side netting past Busch, who guessed correctly but still couldn’t deflect the shot.
  • Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop made one change to the team that opened the season with a 1-0 win against the New England Revolution. Khari Stephenson came into the side in place of Marvin Chavez.

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-3-1-2): Jon Busch - Steven Beitashour, Justin Morrow, Victor Bernardez, Ramiro Corrales - Rafael Baca (Marvin Chavez 46), Sam Cronin (Sercan Guvenisik 80), Shea Salinas - Khari Stephenson (Tressor Moreno 63) - Steven Lenhart, Chris Wondolowski.

TEAM NEWS

  • Chris Wondolowski saw his consecutive-game goalscoring streak stopped at six games, one shy of the MLS record.
  • “All you can do is create chances,” said Wondolowski, who was credited with five shots, two on goal. “Sometimes that touch comes, sometimes it doesn’t. Last game, we had one shot on goal, and we scored it. This game, we made them make five saves, a couple others we didn’t hit on frame, and you lose 1-0. It’s a funny game like that.”
  • The Quakes ended the match with a 24-8 margin in total attempts at goal, forcing Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall into five saves.
  • “I don’t think we need to change anything,” Wondolowski said. “We are creating opportunities. If I had those three or four chances next game, and I’m a betting man, I’m betting a lot of money that I’m scoring those. I should score those, and that’s why it hurts so bad that I didn’t score those.
  • Midfielder Tressor Moreno made his MLS debut, coming on for the final half-hour in place of Khari Stephenson in an attacking midfield role.
  • “Whether he starts or not on the weekend, I think he’s ready to play,” Yallop said of. “His fitness level is up, he’s doing well with that. He works hard after training a lot. He wants to play, and that’s great. He’s ready to go and he looks good right now.”
  • Moreno did not figure in the season-opening victory vs. New England.

Highlights: SJ 0, HOU 1

  • “Tressor’s a dangerous player,” midfielder Shea Salinas said. “He looks for passes that most players don’t. Sometimes he pulls them off, sometimes he doesn’t. And when he does, they’re good balls. The ball through to me was perfect. So yeah, I thought he did well.”
  • The league’s final Original, Ramiro Corrales made his 200th start for San Jose in the Houston match, the 19th player to make at least 200 starts for a single club. Corrales made his professional debut as a 19-year-old on April 28, 1996, at the LA Galaxy.