It's been a quiet week for TFC II, as they have been on another bye week so far and are coming off a good showing against the first place Rochester Rhinos at BMO Field two weeks ago.
For a few TFC II players however, some spent their bye week training with the first team and being part of the recent friendly against EPL side Manchester City. The game saw players Jordan Hamilton, Alex Bono, Manuel Aparcio and Chris Mannella all make appearances against the former England Champions.
Alex Bono stood out with his stellar performance in net, but the Chris Mannella's passing and positional ability played out well, and Jordan Hamilton's scoring opportunities were started from Manuel Aparicio's link up plays.
Now, TFC II looks to have those same performances Saturday when they take on the Harrisburg City Islanders in a battle for the last playoff spot in the East. A win against the Islanders would see TFC II move into ninth in the East and two points away from the last playoff spot, which is currently owned by the Islanders.
Harrisburg City Islanders
The Islanders play out of the Skyline Sports Complex in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and enters it's 11th season of existence. The club started out in the USL second division in 2004 and even won the league in 2007. After the second division, they joined the newly created USL PRO and have been part of since the beginning. Last year was their best season in the new USL. They made it all the way to the finals, only to be knocked out by the Sacramento Republic.
This season, the Islanders sit seventh in the league with 17 goals scored in eight games and seventh in assists with 11. Besides their high goal amount, they sit in 15th in goals allowed, which is still better than TFC II who sit in 21st.
The Islanders seem to be a sharing team Their leading scorer has three goals, while 11 others have recorded at least a goal. TFC II should be wary of Spaniard Enric Vallies, whose four assists lead the lead the team. Leading scorer Ken Tribbet who sits in a defensive midfield position, can cause problems. Jason Plumhoff is another midfielder who can make things difficult. Finally, striker Garret Pettis can have plenty of room behind the defence, since the Islanders midfield is one that the TFC II defence can't take lightly to.
Toronto FC II
It seems that TFC II are starting to get use to their bye weeks. This is their third bye week, and will then be off for two weeks. "Staying mentally focus, being able to recover well, and being able to have enough amount of fluids in your body." is how striker Edwin Rivas stays prepared and fit after during and after bye weeks.
Rivas however thinks that bye weeks have both pros and cons. "It's good in some way but I like to just keep it consistent playing games. It's good that we have some bye weeks to get us back in motion."
After playing at BMO two weeks ago, TFC II is back on the road and Mark Anthony Kaye thinks it's difficult to not have the home fans their. "When you play away games, you don't have the support of your fans, which is a big thing. You end up having to dig deep and jell together more."
Kaye went on to say that, "I think it's helped us become a better team."
While the club has played their fair share of expansion and veteran clubs, Kaye says the more experienced clubs have an edge in a way. "To be honest its been pretty level, but the veteran clubs do have more experience and are a wider age group. So I think the veteran teams will be a little more difficult to face."
"Last couple of weeks we've been working on our attacking shape in the final third and trying to have more sustain possession which will ultimately lead to more chances." said TFC II head coach Jason Bent about what the club has been working on since playing Rochester two Saturdays ago.
With the some second team players getting the call up to the first team, Bent has had to deal with not having a consistent lineup. "We're planning to bring a few more players from the Senior Academy team up, to give them first experience of what its like to play in the USL."
That consistency is what Bent thinks the team needs to work on. "Trying to find the balance and consistency to perform week in and week out."
Harrisburg had a crazy game last week, when they took on the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. A crazy game that saw their 3-0 lead in the second half get erased and ultimately lost 6-5."They had a crazy game on the weekend, a 6-5 game. I think their two centre backs are quite strong in the air, quite physical. So we can't be lobbing balls in the middle of the park because they'll be winning their share of those balls. Their left back looks positionally, and also likes to push forward.
"Their midfield shape is quote secure, they've got three good players, two Spanish players are their six and eight, and then their number ten. They all sort of interchange positions and the two guys in front of the back four tend to get forward as well." said the head coach about what he expects from the Islanders tonight.
I think the bye week will be good for TFC II, but the time off could hurt them in not having match fitness. I say their strong defence continues to shine and they draw the Islanders to earn a point before they have two weeks off.
You can watch the game live on torontofc.ca/live at 7 PM EST.