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What we know and what we don't: Toronto FC (pt.3).

In which we have our selves a sneak peek and what's in store for our boys in white this weekend.*

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Okay, let's everyone just relax and step back from the ledge.  The sky isn't falling and the New York Red Bulls still have a damn good chance of making the playoffs.  Sure, questions about ownership's commitment to the team are abound, as well as Tim Cahill troubles on top of confusion in regards to the future of Thierry Henry...but after last week's win against a much improved Houston Dynamo, things are looking alright.   The Red Bulls are in the drivers seat on the road to the post season and their Eastern Conference competition seems to be doing everything they can to give them a hand. So let's take an optimistic look at tomorrow's match against Toronto FC.  If all all else fails, the ledge will be waiting for us when we get back.

Here's what we know.

  • Both sides are thirsty for three points.

Toronto is four points behind New York and essentially three points and a helping hand away from one of the coveted Eastern Conference playoff spots.   The Red Bulls, on the other hand, are currently situated two spots above the red line.   If Toronto wants any chance of climbing above that line as well, they'll need to pull off a difficult win, on the road in Red Bull Arena.  For New York, three points would go a long way in, not only keeping them playoff bound, but also helping them avoid the extra play-in game reserved for the two teams in the fourth and fifth spots.   This game isn't a must win for either team, but it's pretty damn close.

  • Key players? RBNY is missing a few.
Unless you've been actively ignoring this team for the last two weeks, you should be aware by now that Tim Cahill will not be available for Saturday's match.  The aging Australian has answered the call of his national team and will be taking part in some friendlies that will keep him out of the Red Bulls' roaster for the next week.   No problem, right?  Just slot in Peguy Luyindula, yeah?  Nope!   The Disciplinary Committee announced yesterday that Luyindula will be fined an undisclosed amount and suspended for tomorrow's match for an ill timed tackle last week against the Dynamo.  On top of Cahill and Luyindula, the team will also be missing Ambroise Oyongo and Roy Miller (essentially the teams entire left side) due to international duty.

  • Bradley returns.
Saturday will mark US National teamer and MLS big money maker, Michael Bradley's first time back in New York (insofar as MLS is concerned) since 2005.  It will be the midfielders first ever appearance in Red Bull Arena while wearing a Toronto kit and his return couldn't come at a worse time.  With a few of the Red Bulls' most important midfielders unavailable, Bradley is going to be a more dangerous creative force than usual.  Linking up with the likes of Jermain Defoe and Gilberto means the New York Defense is going to have a bad time.

Here's what we don't know:

  • Who's filling in for whom?
Roy Miller:  His usual replacement, Oyongo, is also unavailable due to a call up for the Cameroonian national team, so who are we going to see at left back?   It's probably going to everyone's favorite yellow card just begging to happen, Armando.  Woof.

Tim Cahill and Peguy Luyindula: Both earning suspensions in their last match and one out of the country, the loss of Cahill and Luyindula is a big one.  It leaves a massive hole in the midfield that New York just doesn't have the depth to fill adequately.   We'll probably see Thierry Henry drop back to the "#10" who will play on the left?

Thierry Henry: If Henry slots into the middle, then Eric Alexander will most likely retake his position on the left wing.  He's been serviceable there in the past, but his recent insertion into the defensive midfield, next to Dax McCarty has been a real boost to the Red Bulls' back line.   So who's going to give Dax a hand?

Eric Alexander:  Filling in on the left, Alexander now leaves a whole in the center midfield.  Could this be Ian Christianson's chance at getting his first MLS start?   Not exactly the type of game you'd want to see an untested player cutting his teeth, but he may be the best option.

Regardless of who plays where, this team is not at full strength.  Here's hoping that Toronto's bad luck continues in a big way.