Major League Soccer’s fifth round is an all-Saturday affair, with eight matches set for kickoff over about nine hours later today. Among the top matches … :
LA Galaxy at Toronto FC (2 p.m. ET):
The two-time defending champion Galaxy has remained strong despite its personnel losses, now unbeaten over five matches in two competitions. Perhaps that’s not the biggest surprise; an increasingly popular theory is that Bruce Arena, the most successful MLS coach to date, is extra motivated this year, that he doesn’t want media and supporters writing off his last two championships as a product of overwhelming star power.
What does register as a mild surprise related to this afternoon’s kickoff at BMO Field: Toronto FC’s ability to resemble something other than the disaster I has traditionally been, and certainly could have been early this year given the off-season upheaval.
This is “Home Opener No. 2” for the Reds, having played one already in Ontario, a nice win over Sporting Kansas City inside the winter-shielding Rogers Centre.
Galaxy striker Robbie Keane won’t be available for this one. Bummer. But Landon Donovan might be. We said might.
Even low on star power, the Galaxy has a terrific back line, one guided by Omar Gonzalez, whose value seems to rise every time he steps on the field for the champs of for the U.S. national team, now back on track and gaining speed toward Brazil 2014.
He’ll be on the watch for a man we should all be watching, TFC striker Robert Earnshaw (pictured). Yes, that Robert Earnshaw. If you have not checked your MLS stats page lately, you will see that Major League Soccer’s new Welsh international is tied for second in league scoring with three goals this year. That’s quite something for a fellow who has played in one fewer match than many teams.
Of course, his game is not just about goals. It’s about effort, earnest and honest, the kind that Ryan Nelsen will demand from everyone around BMO going forward. So, let’s just start calling him “Earnest Robert Earnshaw.” It’s got quite a ring, eh?