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Toronto – It’s a trap!

Big win on Saturday, eh?

Now, for some perspective.

  • Seattle played without their top three scorers. Fredy Montero, Alvaro Fernandez and Mauro Rosales have combined for 24 goals and 20 assists this season. Seattle may be the league’s deepest team, but that’s still a big gap to fill. If it seemed like Seattle was surprisingly lacking in offensive punch for a club that leads the league in goals scored, that might help explain it. The Philadelphia Union back line played great, but they had this advantage.
  • Seattle outshot the Union 13-6. Only two Sounders shots were actually on goal, however. If Brad Evans could hit the net from inside the 18, he might have had a hat trick.
  • The two Union goals came after starting center back (and Delaware Valley native) Jeff Parke left at halftime with a concussion.
  • This was a trap game for Seattle, and they fell right into it. Their U.S. Open Cup victory on Tuesday had them talking about winning four trophies. Before the match, even their terrific TV play-by-play man Arlo White was talking more about the meaning of three wins than he was about the Union, who hadn’t won a game on the west coast all year. With Los Angeles in their sights in the Supporters Shield race, Seattle may have been thinking about winning the three games required to possibly surpass the Galaxy more than they were thinking about winning the one game played on the pitch Saturday night. They were looking past the Union.

So take note, Philadelphia Union:

You’re heading into a trap game too.

Admiral Ackbar has warned you

With two games to go, the Union control their own destiny. They don’t need any help from anyone else. To win the Eastern Conference, they just need to beat Toronto and New York in their last two games.

That’s New York, the Union’s biggest rival, on national TV in prime time.

And Toronto, who the Union lit up for a team record six goals on May 28.

Yeah, you see where I’m going with this.

Toronto is 7-4-5 in all competitions since July 27, shortly after they acquired designated players Danny Koevermans and Torsten Frings.

Since signing with Toronto, Koevermans has scored seven goals in nine games. (If that doesn’t scare you, consider that he’s done it in 666 minutes played. Cue spooky music.) He’s averaging a whopping 0.95 goals per 90 minutes played.

To put that in perspective, here’s the list of MLS leaders in goals per 90 minutes (counting only players with more than 300 minutes played):

  1. Koevermans – .95
  2. Conor Casey – .67
  3. Charlie Davies – .67
  4. Emilio Renteria – .64
  5. Luke Rodgers – .58
  6. Thierry Henry – .56
  7. Landon Donovan – .56
  8. David Ferreira – .53
  9. Andres Mendoza – .53
  10. Alvaro Saborio/Chris Wondolowski – .51
No one else is even close to Koevermans. That’s how hot this guy is, and he’s been doing this for years, averaging more than a goal every two games over his 12 years in the Dutch league. He left Toronto’s last match with an injury, but he’s listed as probable for Saturday and will have had two weeks rest by the time game day rolls around.

Beyond Koevermans, Toronto’s midfield has dramatically improved with the acquisitions of Frings and Terry Dunfeld, along with the emergence of 5-4 jitterbug playmaker Joao Plata (when he’s healthy, which he hasn’t been of late due to a hamstring injury). That’s freed hometown guy Julian de Guzman of a lot of pressure in midfield, and he’s responded with solid play. Add monster center back Andy Iro to the back line, and this is a club that has the core of what should be a playoff team next year.

So yes, Saturday’s win over Seattle was a big game for the Union. But, to paraphrase Harvey Keitel’s character in Pulp Fiction, let’s not … get too NSFW excited just yet. The Union could still theoretically miss the playoffs. That’s how close the playoff standings are.

For the Union, from this point on through season’s end, the biggest game is the next game, whatever that next game may be. In this cast, that’s Toronto, aka the trap game.

5 Comments

  1. Good points, Dan! Let’s not get overconfident. Had Seatle had Koevermans they would have won 4-2; so we need to stay focussed 110% and can’t play another lousy first half.

  2. I’m a bit nervous about the game just because Toronto is a legitimately good team now. However, I can’t see the Union losing the final regular season home game of the season. We might draw but I see the fans willing the team over the top and having the chance to clinch 1st in Harrison, NJ at Red Bull Arena.

  3. Josh T. of Kensington says:

    I like Plata. I think he jumpstarted the two goals Toronto took from us this year. I’m fine if he’s injured on Sat though.

  4. Pingback: The Philly Soccer Page » DN says Mondragon to start against TFC, more news

  5. Pingback: The Philly Soccer Page » Match preview: Union vs Toronto FC

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