Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Amidst Busy Schedule, Toronto FC Faces Balancing Act against Liverpool

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Amidst Busy Schedule, Toronto FC Faces Balancing Act against Liverpool

Article excerpt

TFC faces balancing act against Liverpool

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TORONTO - Paul Mariner is of two minds ahead of Toronto FC's exhibition clash with one of Europe's most storied clubs.

The TFC coach wants to put in a good effort against Liverpool on Saturday, but also sees the need to rest key players in a meaningless match that comes at a particularly gruelling time in the schedule.

"I think everybody knows we've had a very interesting month or so," Mariner said at a press conference Friday. "(But) I think we want to give a good show."

Toronto FC, which will meet Liverpool on a temporary sod pitch at Rogers Centre, has played 10 times since June 16 but Mariner says whatever team he fields will be ready.

"I don't think we want to let ourselves down," he said. "I know the players absolutely won't let themselves down."

A group of players who won't be putting on a show are the Liverpool stars who took part in the recent European Championships.

A press release on Wednesday stated that England internationals Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson, Andy Carroll, Stuart Downing and Jordan Henderson would be in the squad travelling to Toronto.

But in a another statement released less than 24 hours before kickoff, organizers announced that "due to FIFA regulations surrounding mandatory vacation dates" following international tournaments, all players who took part in Euro 2012 would miss out on the trip to Canada.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, who took over the club for the fired Kenny Dalglish on June 1, bristled at the suggestion Canadian fans would be disappointed with his lineup.

"I think we have a lot of big players here, some of the core of the group that's going to be very very important to us and we have some stars of the future -- young players," said the 39-year-old Rodgers. "Of course we have some players that aren't here but the reason they're not here is that they have to recover.

"I don't think it takes away from the players that we've got -- top international players, players that are multi-skilled and players that will fight for the shirt."

Mariner is also planning to field a squad that will include players who have yet to see first-team action, as well as some members of TFC's youth system.

He adds the game should be viewed more as a chance to evaluate what Toronto has in the cupboard.

"This is an ideal opportunity for us to see what we've got. The game is the biggest teacher," he said. "Whether it's a scouting game or a training game or any game -- the game's the best teacher. It's much better than training. You can learn so much about your players."

Toronto FC is 4-2-4 since Mariner took over for the fired Aron Winter after a dreadful 1-9-0 start, and the former England international is wary of a slip up in form against Liverpool.

"We just want to keep things going. We're not going to do anything different," said Mariner, whose team faces another critical league game at home against Houston on July 28. …

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