Johnson to lead Toronto's revival bid
Gordon Williams, Gleaner Writer
The bitter pill of elimination from the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) semi-final will be hard to swallow, but Jamaica striker Ryan Johnson must help revive Toronto FC (TFC) when they return to Major League Soccer (MLS) action today.
TFC lost 7-3 on aggregate to Mexican club Santos Laguna, following Wednesday's 6-2 second-leg CCL drubbing in Torreon. Today, they tackle Montreal Impact, another Canada-based club struggling in North America's top football league.
TFC have no points after three games for 10th and last in MLS's Eastern Conference, behind Montreal, with one point from five.
Johnson and TFC, still missing injured Jamaica international defender Dicoy Williams, will face two other Reggae Boyz - Donovan Ricketts and Shavar Thomas. Defender Thomas got his first MLS 2012 start and played the full match in Montreal's last game, a 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake (RSL) on Wednesday. Ricketts remains positive despite his team's poor start.
"It's a work in progress, but we are confident," the goalkeeper told Montreal's website.
National striker Omar Cummings, in action today for Colorado Rapids against RSL, is also confident, but cautious. He scored his second goal of 2012 in last Sunday's 2-0 win against Chicago Fire.
"I'm not going to be too happy and go over the edge," Cummings told MLS.com. "It's four games into the season and we have 30 more to go."
Jamaica defender Tyrone Marshall came on as a substitute for Colorado against Chicago, his 2012 MLS debut.
A win and three losses - all by 1-0 margins - have plunged Chivas USA and Jamaica-born head coach Robin Fraser to the bottom of MLS's Western Conference (WC). Today Chivas, with skilful English-born Ryan Smith, who is being eyed by Jamaica's national programme, face Portland Timbers. Reggae Boy Lovel Palmer has played every minute of four games for the Timbers, coming off a 3-2 loss to RSL last week and currently seventh of nine teams in the WC.
Jamaicans Shaun Francis and Dane Richards could be key in today's clash between Columbus Crew and New York Red Bulls. Richards, primarily a wide attacking midfielder, has had a quiet 2012, with no goals or assists despite New York's three wins in a row from four games and a MLS-leading 10 scores.
Left-sided defender Francis has played every minute of Columbus's three games, a loss and two wins, including a 1-0 victory over TFC last week.
Jamaican rookie Darren Mattocks has not been so lucky and will be absent for undefeated Vancouver Whitecaps when they visit San José Earthquakes today. Mattocks is recovering from burns.
Jamaica international Khari Stephenson and Simon Dawkins, an English-born player with Jamaican roots, are on San José's roster.