Toronto FC vs Sporting KC: Home Opener Time! Can The Reds Beat The Sporks For The First Time In Four Years?
Toronto FC v Sporting KC ~ March 31st ~ 7:30pm ET ~ BMO Field ~ TSN4
Home opener time! The 2017 MLS season is in full swing, but we’ve yet to have a chance to watch Toronto FC at BMO Field. Of course this season isn’t like the last two, with us waiting until May to make the trek down to BMO, and I for one am actually pretty happy about that. I know that the weather isn’t going to be particularly good (get that rain gear ready folks), but it is frustrating as a fan to wait that long to see your team in your stadium – we may not like watching TFC in rotten weather but we’ve done it before, and we’ll do it again. But really do you care about the weather when it’s the home opener? OK, maybe a little but we’ve all gotten wet before, you block certain things out for the hype of the home opener. Speaking of hype, I do wonder what the hype will be this year…
This year’s home opener opponent is rather fitting when discussing watching Toronto in bad weather, because the last time these two teams met in a Toronto FC home opener the game was held at SkyDome because BMO wasn’t winterised. It was also the last time that TFC beat the Sporks; ah the heady days of March 2013, when it all seemed full of promise, when Earnshaw was scoring goals and Bostock looked good. At that time we here at the Vocal Minority all wrote for different blogs – Tony & Mark over at The Yorkies, and Duncan & I for Waking The Red – now you get us in the blogging/podcasting Voltron that is The Vocal Minority (*shameless plug to listen to next week’s show – Bill Manning’s going to be here, seriously, we’re not kidding*). But before all that, we’ve got a home game to talk about.
As mentioned it’s been awhile since TFC beat the Sporks, filling every match they play each other with that extra bit of incentive. It’s irritating to feel that a team has your number, especially one as annoying as SKC – seriously, I can’t stand them, I just assume the team feels the same way. Both teams are coming into this game with similar (actually identical) records and conference spots, both have key players that played in international qualifiers this week, and both have players that may be struggling with fitness – so an even match-up in that regard. Do I still think that Toronto are the better team? Yes – if, IF – they play smart at the back and improve their service up top. They’ve got the players to make this happen, and they’ll have the crowd behind them, but can they capitalise on all of that?
Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Armando Cooper all played on Tuesday – as did Graham Zusi and Roger Espinoza (I hope they’re tired!) – so Greg Vanney may have some lineup choices he’d prefer not to make. Armando Cooper can sit and Victor Vazquez could start in his place, Jozy (although he didn’t go the full 90), can be subbed out early for Tosaint ‘supersub’ Ricketts, but the main issue is Bradley – Benoit Cheyrou hasn’t been with the team (he’s been getting his coaching badges), so his fitness is unknown (not 100% sure he’s with the team actually), which could see Jay Chapman get some time. I still think there’s a good chance that Bradley goes the full 90 minutes, he’s known for his fitness and his determination (this is not a knock against Jozy or Armando).
There’s good news for TFC though, other than Zusi & Espinoza being tired, Benny Feilhaber is out with a knock – I’m not really taking joy in someone else’s misery and it’s not a serious injury, I’m not a monster guys! – which means that Peter Vermes is without one of his best players, and one that is key to making the Sporks offense work. He still has Dom Dwyer up top and Matt Besler at the back so he’s not without some players that can cause issues for Toronto. TFC have a very welcome positive in the form of a fit and rested Sebastian Giovinco – Seba hasn’t had the fasted start to the season and will be wanting to perform well in front of the home fans. Seba one favour though; let someone else take a free kick, please?
Toronto FC – not just Seba – are highly motivated to win the home opener. The last time they played in front of the home fans…well, you were there, you know what happened. This game is the first step in starting to erase that memory that was quite literally frozen in our minds – a win would be a welcome small step on that path. I do think that TFC will win this game, I wasn’t on this week’s episode of the podcast to make my prediction, but I’m going to go all out and say 3-1 for Toronto. See you all at BMO!