Toronto FC vs Vancouver Whitecaps: Voyageurs Cup Leg 2, This Time It’s Final
Toronto FC vs Vancouver Whitecaps ~ BC Place ~ 10pm ET ~ TSN4
It’s here! Toronto FC’s first shot at meaningful silverware – sorry Trillium Cup – in ages is determined tonight out in Vancouver at BC Place; that’s right it’s time for the final leg of the Voyageurs Cup final! Wheee!!! OK, so I’m a little excited for this game, hell I wish I were independently wealthy so that I could fly out to Vancouver, but I’ll have to settle for the couch and twitter – that’s practically the same thing, right? Anyway, on to the match!
TFC have the edge on the Whitecaps going into tonight’s game having kept a clean sheet in last week’s game here in Toronto. While it would have allowed for some easier breathing had the Reds scored more than one goal, heading into this is without an away goal hanging over us is kind of nice. A win tonight would not only secure Toronto FC’s spot in next year’s CONCACAF Champions League, but also be some welcome good news for a team that’s in the midst of an increasingly difficult period of their season.
Mounting injuries are going to start posing serious issues for Greg Vanney and tonight’s match is the first test. After Clint Irwin went down injured on the weekend (and is now subsequently out for the next six weeks), the only question on everyone’s mind was whether Quillan Roberts or Alex Bono will take the place of the injured No. 1 keeper. From a somewhat biased frame of mind I – and many others – hope to see Roberts between the posts tonight; the Canadian has been with TFC for some time and is a bit of a folk hero among national team supporters for scoring against England in the U-17 World Cup a few years back:
Roberts has also been the de facto ‘kid’ back-up for the past few years; always with the reserve or Academy teams (now with TFC2), but never quite getting time with the first team – other than sitting on the bench. Sure Bono has expectations attached to him having been Toronto’s first choice draft pick (as well as being considered the GK pick of the 2015 draft class), but he’s had far less experience and, didn’t exactly distinguish himself in his short spell on Saturday – regardless of how fair that is, that has to be in Vanney’s mind. Bias aside I do expect to see Q in net tonight.
As for the remaining lineup; well we already knew that Michael Bradley wouldn’t be playing regardless of health (everyone cross your fingers for no knee surgery), Jozy Altidore’s still out, Ashtone Morgan and Dan Lovitz both apparently have knocks and Steven Beitashour is going to be a late decision. While these absences (other than Irwin) don’t change much of what Vanney’s had to work with the past couple matches, the need to rotate the squad will grow with the number of games that they’re playing right now and a very full July schedule.
Expect to see Jordan Hamilton start again with Seba up top and of course Jonathan Osorio, Benoit Cheyrou and Will Johnson will all be out there with the first whistle. As for the rest? Well, that’s a bit up in the air – will the Hagglund at right back experiment continue? Hopefully not given that Mark Bloom has travelled to Vancouver with the team. Josh Williams is likely to play given he won’t play this Saturday against the Sounders. The rest of the defense and the midfield truly feels like a toss-up. I’m hopeful that Vanney will put out a strong lineup that goes for it early. If Toronto can score early it’s a very difficult hole for Vancouver to climb out of; and any draw means that TFC win.
Expect a hard fought match, likely a scrappy one and one that I expect TFC to win. Sticking with my podcast prediction of 1-1.