Reds & Orange Ready To Clash

Asif Hossain - TorontoFC.ca
Physical Encounter

In the second of its two-game road trip Toronto FC visits Texas to take on Houston Dynamo on Wednesday night (TSN & FAN 590 at 9 p.m. ET).

Reds' midfielder Terry Dunfield conceded the poor start was costly on Saturday night in Kansas City, where Toronto gave up two first half goals on way to a 2-0 defeat. The midfielder and fellow veterans on the squad have been adamant in training this week that the Reds can't afford to slip up early against The Orange. "We'll know Houston's strengths," Dunfield told Toronto FC TV. "They are a big physical team ... we'll have to be ready for a battle Wednesday night." Dunfield went on to say the key to getting a result is not just containing Houston, but asserting Toronto's game at the brand new BBVA Compass Stadium.

A Shortened Bench

Toronto is expected to be without regular centre back Adrian Cann in Houston due to an injury. Head coach Paul Mariner's bench was further reduced when he confirmed that three players were sent home Tuesday.

Mariner was an MLS assistant coach for six seasons, during two of which his New England Revolution faced Dominic Kinnear's Houston Dynamo in MLS Cup Final. Though long-time rivals, the Toronto boss is a fan of his Wednesday counterpart. "I've got great admiration for Dominic," Mariner said after making his player announcement. He highlighted several dangerous Houston players, calling Wednesday's encounter a "formidable task" that his TFC squad is looking forward to.

Help On The Way?

With Cann likely out of action this week, a door opens for the possible return of Dicoy Williams. Both players suffered near-identical ACL injuries in 2011 and it has been a long road back for the two men. Mariner had hoped to spare Williams on this trip but necessity may call the Jamaica international to the pitch earlier than the coach wanted. Williams expressed his delight this week at the thought of donning the Toronto shirt on to play first team football again.

Out on the flanks, Toronto fullbacks will probably have to contend with Houston wingers Brad Davis and Calen Carr. One of the top servicemen in MLS, Davis' exploits are well known to Toronto. Defender Jeremy Hall said the Reds hope to limit the Houston catalyst by not conceding set pieces near the box. Houston won its last game 2-1 after a Davis corner found Adam Moffat for the finish. From open play, Hall said he wants to keep Davis in check by "making him play negative as much as possible."

Going Forward

Goalless in KC, Toronto wasn't without chances playing in Mariner's 4-4-2 formation. The coach has been in charge for less than two weeks and his players are still adjusting to the changes. One player that has taken to the new approach is winger Reggie Lambe.

"I think that's my best position," Lambe said of being deployed in midfield, "that's where I like to play. I find myself effective on the wing." The Bermuda international was primarily used as a forward under the previous skipper. He has four goals in 2012, scoring twice in an MLS match against Chicago on April 21, and picking up two more tallies in the Canadian Championship. Enjoying his first season in the league, Lambe said he is committed to learning more about the opposition ahead of Wednesday.

The Opposition

The Officials

Wednesday's referee is 136-game MLS veteran Baldomero Toledo. He averages 25 fouls and 3.5 yellow cards per game according to MLSsoccer.com. He has shown 48 red cards and called 50 penalties in his career. Toledo will be assisted by Brian Poeschel and Mark Cahen. The fourth official is Jorge Luna Hernandez.