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miaowang123 Jul 12
Five games to go with reason to believe playoff soccer may be on the horizon. Terrell Edmunds Jersey . Toronto FC saved their season last Saturday in a dramatic 3-2 come-from-behind victory over the Portland Timbers. Sixty minutes of poor play turned into 30-plus minutes of inspired football from the home side, keeping Toronto in the playoff hunt. A loss or a draw wouldnt have mathematically washed away playoff hopes. But the psychological lift a big win against a difficult opponent provided is invaluable for a team that has experienced more lows than highs in recent months. The win over Portland was the ultimate high: a much needed shot in the arm for a team and fanbase that has become accustomed to self-loathing and expecting the worse. The three-second half goals and ultimately three points stand as arguably the most important in the eight-year life of the franchise. The noise in the stadium and lasting buzz after the final whistle can only be compared with Danny Dichios first goal in franchise history and the seat cushions thrown in celebration. The biggest win in franchise history? Sure. Why not? Certainly the most memorable and meaningful. Toronto played just about as bad as they could over the first half of the match. Yet despite the mistake-ridden 45, it never felt the game was out of reach. TFC should have had two first half goals with a ball going off the post and Gilberto missing a sitter. As the defensive structure improved, so did the confidence and pressure on the ball. Torontos resiliency ended in three scrappy goals, trademark of a character team. It was the second time in team history TFC came back from a 2-0 deficit. Forget the negative headlines of recent weeks, this Toronto FC team now has the most wins and points they have ever had in franchise history. Next step: playoffs. Toronto FC sits in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, just one point back of the New York Red Bulls with a game in hand. Most important, Toronto FC remains in control of its own playoff destiny. Here are my Five Thoughts ahead of Saturday nights (10:30pm et/7:30pm pt) Los Angeles Galaxy-Toronto FC match-up. 1) Redemption a€“ Nick Hagglund and Toronto FCs back four had as bad of a first 45 minutes imaginable against Portland. The rookie centre-half was culpable on the first goal against, far too casual in distribution giving away the ball to gift Portland the opener. The Timbers could have scored more than twice in the opening half, carving up an unbalanced and unsure defensive unit. It was painful to watch to the point it made sense for the manager to make changes. Vanney stuck to his guns, entrusting Hagglund and others to sort it out. Vanneys patience was rewarded. It became a tale of two halves. Hagglund was standout in the second half: aggressive, instinctual and tidy, over-powering and out-playing a talented Timbers frontline. Fanendo Adi left the field looking as if he had been through a war, with former Reds striker Maximillano Urruti playing the role of spectator upon his second half introduction. Hagglunds two headed goals (the first of his young career) meant redemption for the 22-year-old, all within 90 minutes of football. The goals were timely, but his passionate, character performance in the second half will also be memorable. Overcoming in-match adversity is difficult for the most experienced player. Hagglund continues to prove hes more than capable alongside Steven Caldwell. At this point he seems a preferable option over Doneil Henry at the position. Its a matter of consistency, not talent. 2) Midfield Mash-up a€“ Its decision-time for Vanney with a full compliment of midfielders at his disposal for the trip out west. Collen Warner (hamstring) and Jackson (suspension) are both available for selection. Its a positive dilemma for the manager to have. Michael Bradley is the only player guaranteed a spot in the starting XI. Vanney may choose to re-insert Warner alongside Bradley, although the duo has lacked cohesion, playing similar roles causing imbalance through the middle. The Bradley-Warner combination however may be preferable against a very good attacking side. Jonathan Osorio will look to keep his place, being a better fit in a more attacking role down the middle. Osorio was unable to influence the match against Portland as Toronto was out-matched and out-numbered in the midfield for long-stretches. Kyle Bekker came on in the 75th minute and was an immediate factor, giving his manager something to think about going forward. The decision on the wings isnt much easier. Dominic Oduro was solid in the start, as was Daniel Lovitz who continues to improve. Jackson is another option and may be preferred to Oduro. The Brazilian was the best player on the field 10 days ago against Chivas before losing composure and being sent off. Hes more reliable defensibly than Oduro, which may lead to a prompt return to the starting line-up despite drawing the ire of Vanney. Dwayne De Rosario and Andrew Wiedeman are other options, although both will most likely remain on the periphery. Both were positive substitutions in the comeback win. Vanney has options. Its up to the inexperienced manager how to use them best. 3) Forward Planning a€“ Vanney likewise has difficult decisions to make up front with Jermain Defoe likely available. Defoe last played August 23, sidelined with a groin injury. Luke Moore and Gilberto have grown in confidence in Defoes absence but have only combined for two goals in the six games missed by the star forward. Defoe still leads Toronto in scoring by four goals (11) despite appearing in just 16 matches. Defoe will play if fit, but the question begs when and how much? Perhaps Vanney takes a cautious approach against the Galaxy. It will be a tough game in Los Angeles and Vanney may think its not worth risking Defoe from the start with more winnable games ahead. If Saturdays game remains close, Defoe could then come on as a second half sub and attempt to play difference-maker. This is the most likely scenario. If Defoe is fit to start, then Moore should make way. Moore has looked less lively than Gilberto, with the pace of the Brazilian causing problems for the opposition. However, the Defoe-Moore partnership was a more effective pairing early this season. There is plenty to think about. If Gilberto were more consistent in front of goal, the decision would be a no-brainer. As a Designated Player, this should be Gilbertos time to shine. 4) Out of this Galaxy a€“ Torontos final regular season match against a Western Conference opponent comes against arguably the best. No team is hotter in MLS, undefeated in their last nine, scoring 28 goals in the process. The strike force of Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes is the most dangerous in MLS, scoring a combined 33 goals. The Landon Donovan retirement tour rolls on, with the all-time great adding 10 goals and an incredible 18 assists along the way. No question this will be the Toronto back fours stiffest test yet. The Galaxy have already qualified for the MLS playoffs and are pushing for the Supporters Shield, level on points (57) with the Seattle Sounders. The Galaxy are tops in MLS in goals for (63) and have the best defensive record (31) as well. Add it all up and a draw would be massive on the most difficult away match yet. Temper expectations. Litmus test, coming up. 5) Eastern Promise a€“ Scoreboard watching is inevitable this time of year. The Chicago Fire did Toronto a favour Thursday, drawing the Philadelphia Union 1-1. The Union has played two games more and remain one point back of Toronto. Good news. Two other huge Eastern Conference match-ups are worth following Saturday. The Red Bulls host the Houston Dynamo, who also remain in the playoff mix. Its a must-win game for the Dynamo, five points back of their opponent heading in. New York leads Toronto by one point for the final playoff spot, as previously mentioned. Elsewhere the surging New England Revolution host the Columbus Crew in a battle of two teams Toronto is chasing. The Revs moved into second place in the conference on 45 points last weekend after a big 3-2 win over Sporting Kansas City, also on 45 points. The Crew is in fourth on 43 points. The hope is New England continues to roll, as the sooner the Revs lock up a playoff berth the better. Toronto FC pays a trip to New England in their final game of the season. A meaningless game for the Revs would set up well for the travelling Reds who will most likely go down to the wire in their playoff push. You can listen to Los Angeles Galaxy v. Toronto FC on TSN 1050 Radio (pre-match at 10pm et) and watch on TSN1, TSN3, TSN4, and TSN5. You can reach Gareth Wheeler @WheelerTSN and gareth.wheeler@bellmedia.ca Steelers Jerseys . As if the individual strands of grey hair or the increasing amount of joint pain werent reminders enough, the impending end of Jeters career is a slap-in-the-face indicator of a generations fleeting youth. James Washington Jersey . - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to meet with Richie Incognito to determine if one of the central figures in the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal can help their struggling offensive line.New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Baylor and Ohio State leapfrogged TCU in the final Associated Press poll. Alabama, Florida State and Oregon remained the top three teams in the country. The Crimson Tide, who posted a 42-13 win over Missouri to win the SEC championship, received 27 first-place votes and a total of 1,452 points from a nationwide media panel. Undefeated Florida State earned 25 first-place votes and 1,436 points following a 37-35 win over Georgia Tech in the ACC title game. Pac-12 champion Oregon picked up eight first-place votes and 1,426 points. Baylor was fourth and Big Ten champion Ohiio State was fifth, while TCU fell two spots to sixth after the Bears and Buckeyes beat ranked teams on Saturday. Morgan Burnett Steelers Jersey. Baylor topped Kansas State 38-27 and Ohio State dismantled Wisconsin 59-0. TCU, meanwhile, trounced Iowa State 55-3 to finish as co-champion of the Big 12 with Baylor. Michigan State, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Georgia Tech rounded out the top 10. The second 10 consists of Kansas State, Arizona, Georgia, UCLA, Arizona State, Missouri, Wisconsin, Clemson, Auburn and Louisville. 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