On Tuesday (at 6 PM EST) Toronto FC will take to the field down in Orlando for their second match in the Walt Disney Pro Soccer Classic. This time around they will be up against Swedish side BK Hacken in what will be an interesting match for TFC (stream available here when the game starts.).
Hacken are generally a top half side in Sweden's top division, the Allsvenskan, so they should provide the Reds with a stiff challenge. A quick glance at the roster for the club does not reveal any recognizable names but this is not a team that Toronto should be taking lightly. The fact that they were able to reach the third round of qualifying (only 2 rounds from the group stages!) for this years Europa league goes to show that they are no slouches. Now it should also be noted that they did only make it in to Europa League qualifying because of fair play but they made the most of it.
From a Toronto FC perspective this game will be about continuing to build fitness and regain some sharpness. Today at training Aron Winter commented that he expects a fair number of the players to go further in to this game. If the Orlando City match was about getting a good 60 minutes for key players than this game will be about trying to stretch those minutes even longer.
We should see a very strong 11 from Toronto again in this game as Winter will be looking to get his key players ready. There may be a couple of tweaks from the group that he played against Orlando as different players should be available to take some part in this match. Luis Silva and Ty Harden are both expected to be back from minor injuries and should play some role in this match. Ryan Johnson will also be back for this match have returned from a successful week away with the Jamaican National team.
With those three back and available for selection Winter will have basically his full roster to chose from in this match. The one player in Orlando who will not be ready to go is Adrian Cann. Cann is on his way back from a major injury and the good news is that today he was able to take part in team activities and even fire a few shots for the first time in nearly 7 months. The Disney tournament and the start of the season may be too soon for Cann but his rapid recovery has him on track to make a potential return sometime this month.
Like all of the games in the Disney Classic this one will be streamed for us to watch on the MLS site as well as on Toronto FC's website. That will give fans a second chance to see the team and hopefully they will be slightly more impressed this time around. Against Orlando it was very obvious that the team was playing their first slightly meaningful game in several months. This time, if things go according to plan, the team's energy level should be higher and there should be more sharpness.
If Winter again goes with his best 11 available fans will try to look at this game as a bit of a measuring stick. That would be a bit foolish as you can never get a good read on a team until it is in a meaningful game. Even if Toronto turns in a solid performance against Hacken it would be foolish to assume that means they are any more ready to take on the LA Galaxy. Instead what fans should be looking for is improvement and all the key players successfully going deep in to the match.
The three players that came off the fastest against Orlando will hopefully last longer this time around. Danny Koevermans, who left the first match with an injury, should be back after successfully completing training the past two days and will be looking to get more than half an hour and actually get some involvement. Geovanny Caicedo and Richard Eckersley both left the field after 45 minutes having turned in very sub par performances so if they both want to play a role on March 7th they will need to be much better this time around.
For this game the key will be fitness, sharpness, and improved teamwork. As long as the team makes progress than fans should be happy that they are on track. No matter what happens we really will not know how ready they are going to be for the LA game until they take to the field that night.
Speaking of the LA game, there are officially only suites left up for grabs. The club announced today that they have sold a record number of tickets at 43,500! Now all that is left to do is make sure the dome is rocking!