It’s not a do-or-die situation but it’s pretty darn close.
Toronto FC will try to give its fading playoff hopes a boost with a victory over the visiting San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 4 p.m. ET). Toronto currently sits 11th overall in the Major League Soccer standings with 35 points — three behind the New England Revolution, who hold down the eighth and final playoff spot.
Live Game Blog
Want the inside scoop on Saturday's game between Toronto FC and the San Jose Earthquakes? Be sure to check out CBCSports.ca's live game blog starting at 3:30 p.m. ET.
John F. Molinaro of CBCSports.ca and CBC Radio's Scott Regehr will be blogging, answering your questions leading up to kickoff and during the course of the game.
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Victories in each of its last three games of the season would virtually assure the Canadian club of its first playoff berth since entering the league as an expansion franchise in 2007.
While a loss against San Jose wouldn't officially eliminate Toronto from playoff contention, it would deal a serious blow to the team’s fledgling post-season aspirations, a fact not lost on coach Chris Cummins.
"It's a game we can't afford to lose," Cummins conceded.
Canadian midfielder Julian de Guzman, who will be making his home debut for Toronto FC since signing with the club last month, echoed his coach’s sentiment.
"[Saturday] is the most important game of the season for us," said de Guzman.
The task of earning three points against the Earthquakes, already eliminated from playoff contention, won’t be easy, as Toronto will be missing three key starters.
Right fullback Marvell Wynne is sidelined with a thigh injury, and veteran midfielder Carl Robinson was ruled out for the remainder of the campaign after suffering a fractured cheekbone in practice this week.
Cummins called the loss of Robinson, the club’s MVP in each of the past two seasons, "a massive loss."
With Robinson out for the season, Pablo Vitti or rookie Amadou Sanyang seem the likeliest candidates to replace him in the lineup, but the possibility exists that Adrian Serioux could move up from centre back to centre midfield.
Toronto will also be without influential playmaker Amado Guevara, currently away on international duty with the Honduran national team.
And if that's not bad enough, starting goalkeeper Stefan Frei is questionable against San Jose after breaking a finger in a training session on Monday. If Frei can’t play, seldom-used backup Brian Edwards.
"If my name is on the team sheet, I'm ready for it," Edwards said. "I've been training well and it's been what I've been waiting for all season."
Toronto FC hosts Real Salt Lake on Oct. 17 (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 4 p.m. ET) before closing out the season on the road against the New York Red Bulls the following Saturday.