After a stunning 4 goal come from behind victory against the Dynamo on Saturday night, the Reds will hope to have a similar goal scoring explosion in their mid-week clash against Canadian rivals, the Vancouver Whitecaps. Having played each other twice already this season in the Amway Canadian Championship, a semi-final that ended in a TFC victory in penalties, you can imagine that tonight’s match-up will be about retribution for the Whitecaps.
The Whitecaps have taken all three points only once in their last four games since the end of the World Cup break, and find themselves teetering on the edge of the playoff picture in the Western Conference. With at least one game in hand on all those above them in the Western table, Vancouver will need this match desperately to fend off the Galaxy, who are nipping at their heels and have two games in hand on the Caps.
Meanwhile in TFC land, the loss of captain Steven Caldwell to a quad tear and the possibility of Michael Bradley not being match ready leaves the Reds with a very thin backline and defensive presence against a very fast and attacking Whitecaps side.
Should Coach Ryan Nelsen decide to not use Bradley Orr in a central defensive role, a pairing of Nick Hagglund and Doneil Henry can be expected. The rookie Hagglund has been playing excellent and has deservedly found his way into the starting XI on a number of occasions. But it is his inexperience that makes me weary of having him alongside a recently shaky partner in Henry in this vital match.
TFC has never lost to Vancouver at home in any competition. That being said, they have only met four times previously in MLS play since Vancouver joined the league. Those four matches have been evenly split, with the home team winning each time.
You can expect Vancouver to push the pace since they have speed to burn. Kekuta Manneh, Erik Hurtado, Darren Mattocks are just a few of the names you can expect to be hearing a lot of tonight. Not to mention Pedro Morales and Matias Laba…remember him?
Regardless of who Vancouver fields tonight, the Reds have the ability to match them for speed and skill. All players have been doing their fair share of contributing to the cause, and it was especially evident in the win over Houston. A resurgent Jonathan Osorio, who I have criticized on twitter, has made me eat my words…thank you for that! He shone brightly in Michael Bradley’s absence and would surely love to keep that momentum going, having setup one of Defoe’s goals and getting one of his own.
I nearly forgot to mention Jermain Defoe. Is this guy for real or what? He’s been incredible to watch and has thrown this team on his back. His passion is unmatched. Having scored 10 of Toronto’s 23 goals this season, he’s not only our best player, but historically, he’s the first TFC player to score 10+ goals in a season since 2010. Can you guess who the last player was? If you said DeRo, you got it.
Tonight’s match should be showcase and is a huge opportunity for both teams to separate themselves from the rest. Expect Vancouver to come out flying, but as we saw on Saturday, when TFC wants to score goals, watch out.
(image courtesy of Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press)