Toronto FC takes on the San Jose Earthquakes in a game with large playoff implications Saturday afternoon in MLS action at BMO Field.
Currently in 11th place in the overall standings, Toronto needs three points from Saturday’s match to realistically keep its playoff hopes alive.
It will be up to Toronto’s mental strength to avoid late game breakdowns. In their last contest at Chicago, TFC held a 2-1 lead for much of the second half before Brian McBride tied it late to earn a point for the Chicago Fire.
Toronto has allowed a league-worst 14 goals against in the final 15 minutes of play.
That is 35 per cent of the total goals TFC has allowed into its net, also the most in the league.
Coming into Saturday’s game, Toronto will find itself undermanned. Midfielder Amado Guevara is away on international duty with Honduras, currently trying to qualify for the World Cup.
Midfielder Carl Robinson, who received his fifth yellow card in the Chicago match, will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a facial injury suffered in practice.
“It’s a massive loss,” Cummins said of Robinson’s injury. “I know he’s been out injured the last couple of weeks but I don’t think people realize how much of an influence he has in the change room.”
Robinson received an indentation in his cheekbone after clashing heads with a player during practice earlier this week, and is expected to miss six to eight weeks.
Marvell Wynne will be out for the match as well with a thigh strain. The speedy defender, who was a member of the United States’ Confederations Cup squad, was ruled out by head coach Chris Cummins on Tuesday.
Although Edwards has not started a regular season game this year, he has played in a few friendlies, including matches against Real Madrid and River Plate. The American also appeared in six matches for TFC last year, picking up two clean sheets.
Despite the injuries, there are still several players who could likely fill the role in the middle.
“We’re blessed with a lot of central midfielders so we’ll have a look at it,” Cummins said.
One of the players who might fall back into Robinson’s defensive midfield spot is newly acquired Julian de Guzman. The Canadian international played in that role for Deportivo La Coruna of Spain’s La Liga.
San Jose comes into this match having already been eliminated from post-season contention. A 2-1 loss to FC Dallas on Wednesday night sealed their fate.
The second year squad needs to win two of their final three matches in order to finish with more points than last season. In 2008, San Jose put up 33 points, compared to 28 through 27 matches in 2009.
Toronto defeated San Jose 3-1 in their previous meeting on July 11. It would turn out to be TFC’s lone win of the month.