Toronto FC rockets up the charts

Wednesday April 29th, 2009

Our weekly dose of Major League Soccer quick takes, plotlines to watch and Power Rankings.

Three times this season, the reigning MLS Cup champions have held a lead entering the 80th minute of a match at Crew Stadium. Each time, the team has managed only a point. After this past weekend's two-goal collapse against Chicago, Columbus sits in last place in the Eastern Conference. Team captain Frankie Hedjuk, who sat out a fifth consecutive game with a hamstring strain, thinks his mates are struggling as the rest of the league focuses on playing its best against the Crew. "Being the defending champions, we have a target on our backs now and everyone's going to step up their game that much more," he told Free Kicks. "It's a different and tough task to be that team."

It was an exciting week for MLS' northernmost team as two victories vaulted it into first place in the Eastern Conference. Without an injured Dwayne De Rosario, Toronto defeated Chivas USA and Kansas City but lost coach John Carver, who gave his surprise resignation a day before the second tilt. Earlier in the week, TFC dominated the Western Conference leaders as rookie Stefan Frei only needed to make one save while posting the first of two shutouts. Danny Dichio and Pablo Vitti provided the offensive spark in both matches and assistant coaches Chris Cummins and Nick Dasovic held the side together after Carver's departure.

MLS watchers eagerly await Saturday's important match between Seattle and Chicago. Both teams sit in second in their respective conferences. Can Brian McBride, who has tallied 10 times in his 17 games since returning from England, be the first player to put a ball past Sounders keeper Kasey Keller? Or will Sigi Schmid's side improve on its record-breaking start? Elsewhere, Real Salt Lake looks to keep up its high-scoring ways in Colorado while the Red Bulls visit the L.A. Galaxy in a battle of two clubs that desperately need a victory.

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