After earning a hard-fought draw on the road, Toronto FC must refocus their efforts on high-flying Sporting Kansas City.
Toronto FC didn’t get off to the greatest of starts against New York City. The penalty that Marky Delgado gave up was sloppy, and they looked out of sorts when they conceded another goal minutes later. Truly, without Sebastian Giovinco, they would’ve been dead in the water. Toronto knows they can’t perform the way they did and get away with it. Especially considering the quality of their next opponent, Sporting Kansas City.
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While Toronto’s opening win against the Red Bulls was impressive at the time, the fact that they got whitewashed by Montreal 3-0 does take a bit of the shine off it. It may only be two weeks, but Kansas City have been one of the most impressive teams so far this season. They won their opening game against perennial top dogs Seattle Sounders on the road, then blanked the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-0. Here, we will highlight the opposition’s players to watch so that TFC doesn’t fall to the same fate as their Canadian counterparts.
While Kansas’ attack is a balanced one, their win over Vancouver was the Dom Dwyer show. He scored both of Kansas’ goals, and absolutely blasted in an early contender for goal of the season:
"Blast off! @Ddwyer14 with the . #SKCvVAN https://t.co/gqTOa62hf4— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 13, 2016"
To say that our friends over at Reporting KC were mildly impressed is putting it lightly:
Then, he scored his second of the night before the first half was over, which prompted him to do his best DJ Khaled impression:
Kansas City are a dangerous team, and the Whitecaps are lucky that they only got to feel the full force of just one of their attackers. In addition, they have kept two clean sheets so far due to Matt Besler leading an impenetrable back line and Tim Melia being one of the better goalkeepers in the league – and if he gets hurt, Jon Kempin has proved he can be a reliable understudy as well.
Toronto and Kansas City only met once last season, but they gave us a lesson in football. They bullied us to a 3-1 win at home with goals from Krisztian Nemeth, Jacob Peterson, and Benny Feilhaber (you may recognize that last name as the other person who was nominated for the MVP Award. Turns out he’s pretty good too). Any one of them is capable of having a big game, and while Toronto’s roster has plenty of depth, there aren’t as many players that can how up consistently like Sebastian Giovinco.
While their win against the Red Bulls showed promise that this team can be more defensively sound, their draw against New York City was a regression back to last season when they were heavily dependent on Giovinco to bail them out. Sporting Park has also earned its nickname of “The Blue Hell” as it is far and away one of the most intimidating atmospheres in all of MLS.
This next game will be a tough test, and if TFC play the way they did last week, they won’t get away with a point. However, a win next week would be a huge statement and would prove that they can learn from their mistakes. If Toronto want to prove this season that they’re contenders rather than pretenders, they need to not only hang with Sporting KC, but they need to come storming out of the gate. Let’s all hope that they can come out with a better performance.