Two Canadian clubs will face off this evening in a game that could have massive implications. The Vancouver Whitecaps (6-4-7) currently sit on 25 points from 17 games and Toronto FC (7-5-3) are hot on their tail with 24 points from 15 games played.
The rivalry between the Whitecaps and TFC has been great since both teams have entered MLS. Vancouver has certainly enjoyed more success in a much shorter time in North America’s first division than Toronto. However, the winds of change are blowing and Toronto FC are well on their way to becoming a MLS powerhouse. Under ex-Whitecap coach Martin Rennie Vancouver started both the 2012 and 2013 season on a high but by the time summer rolled around the Whitecaps were struggling for points.
Unfortunately, the 2014 version of the Whitecaps are flirting with that same disaster after suffering a demoralizing 3-1 home loss to Chivas USA on the weekend. This year Chivas USA are proving that they are a force to be reckoned with as they have added their name to the list of strong teams in the western conference.
Toronto FC underwent their famous roster overhaul this last offseason and it has paid off. On the weekend Toronto went down 2-0 to an under performing Houston Dynamo but thanks to Jermain Defoe, they mounted an impressive 4 goal comeback. Toronto will be without their captain Steven Caldwell who suffered a quad tear in the game against Houston. USA international Michael Bradley was rested versus the Dynamo so I would not be surprised to see him start against Vancouver. The status of DP striker Gilberto remains questionable.
Vancouver defender Jordan Harvey was given a straight red card in the second half against Chivas so he will be suspended for tonight’s game. Head Coach Carl Robinson has hinted to reporters that young Canadian Sam Adekugbe who has just returned from injury will replace Harvey. Recently acquired winger Dominic Oduro will likely start on the wing for TFC so I expect to see a great battle between Oduro and Adekugbe.
Tonight’s game will go a long way to determine if Vancouver can prevent a 3rd mid-season collapse and if Toronto FC can continue to push for their first ever MLS playoff appearance. Also both teams are in the running for Canada’s 2015 CONCACAF Champions League spot. Earlier this year the Canadian Soccer Association announced that the Canadian MLS team that finishes with the most points this 2014 season will win the CCL spot.
After tonight’s game the Whitecaps head to Utah to face Real Salt Lake this weekend as they continue a busy stretch of their season as they play 3 games in a week.
(image courtesy of whitecapsfc.com)