Toronto FC vs Vancouver Whitecaps: Voyageurs Cup Final Leg One – We’re Baaack!
Toronto FC v Vancouver Whitecaps ~ BMO Field ~ 7:30pm ET ~ TSN4
What’s that? Toronto FC are back in the Voyageurs Cup final? AND it’s against the Vancouver Whitecaps? Ooh I love it when a narrative comes together! Although all of us would have loved to see TFC play the Ottawa Fury – really, that was going to be one fun road trip – there does seem to be something so right about once again facing Vancouver for the trophy.
Tonight’s game against the Whitecaps is the home leg for TFC, or the start of the ‘Drive For Five!’ (catchy, right?) as our Reds seek to regain the title of Canadian Champions for the first time since 2012. Remember those years? When it seemed like we won every year, usually at the expense of the Whitecaps? Ah, those were truly the halcyon days….But then of course the team decided that being terrible and not caring about the Voyageurs Cup was the way to go. But, no more! This time they’re serious! Actually, they do seem sort of serious – it’s a nice change from indifference and blatant disregard. As I’ve said before, the Voyageurs Cup is fun! The atmosphere is different, the games feel different – it is just one of my favourite things.
Greg Vanney has taken a pretty solid approach to the the VCup games with a mix of youth and available veterans in his lineups. Of course the team is still missing Michael Bradley as the USMNT is still in contention in Copa America; as well as the injured Jozy Altidore. However the former’s absence has been ably filled by the return of Benoit Cheyrou to the starting XI – he was the difference maker in the semi-finals against the Impact and had another solid match in Toronto’s win over the Galaxy on the weekend.
As for the rest of the lineup; I think you can expect to see one similar to Saturday’s game with Jordan Hamilton once again getting the start, also expect Will Johnson to start instead of come off the bench, (his presence was a difference maker on the weekend), with likely a younger backline – think Zavaleta or even Morgan as possibilities – and then Seba and maybe Dan Lovitz instead of Delgado or Endoh. The younger players have shown a desire in these games and well, you want your players to be pumped up for matches – might as well put out the ones that are playing for time, for profile and to some eyes, for prestige.
As for the Whitecaps; well it’s hard to say what Carl Robinson will do. Vancouver’s had a mixed season – still in the top 4 of the Western Conference but lost on the weekend, and while they score lots of goals they concede even more – letting in 27 goals so far on the season. Add to that their rather poor road record and a team that hasn’t exactly looked committed to winning the Voyageurs Cup and you’ve got to think that TFC have an edge in this one. Robbo will have Kendall Waston available as he’s returned from international duty with Costa Rica being eliminated from Copa America. Octavio Rivero and Pedro Morales are not only available for this game but well rested having both served suspensions against the Revolution on the weekend – so maybe that edge is a bit slighter?
Regardless of all that, regardless of narrative, team expectations in MLS and more, I expect Toronto to win tonight. In fact I expect them to win the Cup – because why not. 2-0 tonight, 3-1 aggregate.