Reds On The Road To Dangerous Dallas

Asif Hossain -
A Dangerous Opponent

Toronto FC will play its sixth game in 18 days on Wednesday night when the Reds visit Frisco, Texas to take on FC Dallas (TSN, 9 p.m. ET). 

The home team will be well rested not having seen MLS action since June 23. They are also expected to get a boost with former league MVP David Ferreira returning to action for the first time since breaking his ankle in Vancouver on April 23, 2011.

Dallas has struggled without its main playmaker and several other injuries to top performers such as winger Brek Shea. These absences helped to push the 2010 MLS Cup finalist to the bottom of the Western Conference table, sputtering through an 11-game winless skid. Toronto head coach Paul Mariner, however, will not take the hungry Hoops lightly, saying "they're a dangerous team." Taking note of their improved health in time to face Toronto, Mariner added "I've got all the time in the world for Brek Shea, I think he is a special talent."

Emory Earns His Place

One of the players Mariner will count on to keep the revived Dallas attack at bay is Reds' centre back Logan Emory. Like the Hoops, Toronto has been hit with a rash of injuries to its backline. Hard work and advantageous timing has allowed Emory to emerge in place of known quantities like Adrian Cann (knee sprain), Doneil Henry (illness) and Dicoy Williams trying to regain sharpness following torn ACL recovery.

"A lot of being a defender is being confident and being comfortable," Emory said after training on Tuesday. At only 24, Emory was the old man on the backline Saturday. "With being young, we all work hard, there are no egos. We communicate well."  His potentially match-saving tackle against Joel Lindpere late in the 1-1 New York draw won Emory many admirers, including the praise of his head coach who called him "an unsung hero."

Turning A Corner

Saturday's draw against the top team in the Eastern Conference - at the time - extended Toronto's unbeaten run to four games with a win and three draws. Two of the ties came in disappointing fashion with leads dropped late in the match. Nonetheless, fans have taken note of renewed energy within the squad that is a far cry from the doldrums of a 0-9 start to the season.

For midfielder Terry Dunfield, the belief players held in each other is finally bearing fruit. "I don't think the chemistry in the (dressing) room has ever been in doubt," the Canada international said Tuesday. The clearest expression of this comes from the attitude of team leaders, who have taken an increased ownership role of results and responsibilites under Mariner. With this momentum, Dunfield expects Toronto to claw its way back to respectability. "Hopefully, fingers crossed, we've turned a corner."

Frisco Friendships On Hold

Two former Dallas players making their return to Frisco on Wednesday night are Eric Avila and Jeremy Hall. The stay was a brief one for Hall, but Avila spent over three seasons with a team where he still has many friends; and in the hearts of Dallas fans occupies a special place for contributing to their 2010 MLS Cup Playoffs run.

From North Texas to the true north, Avila has found a new home in Toronto and more precisely, as an attacking midfielder servicing the likes of MLS Player of the Week Danny Koevermans and Jamaica international Ryan Johnson. Avila was quick to spread the credit when prompted about his role in the newfound success of Toronto's offence. "It's a whole team thing," the midfielder said of the positive output, "but Danny gets in great spots. He just puts the goals in so it makes it easier for us."

Koevermans has scored in four straight games for TFC, making him a good bet to give Dallas problems particularly as they've struggled in recent weeks. Despite this, Avila knows Dallas could easily turn things around at the visitors' expense. "The whole them, they have great players," the midfielder warned about his former mates.

The Opposition

The Officials

A fairly new MLS referee will be in charge on Wednesday. Jose Carlos Rivero has led just two matches according to In those games he has averaged 21.5 fouls and 5 yellow cards. In both matches Rivero has flashed red cards and called penalties. His assistants on Wednesday are Ian Anderson and Anthony Vasoli. The man holding the electronic board at the touch line - fourth official - is Kevin Terry Jr.