The Headliner: Putting Pressure on the Whitecaps
Toronto FC cannot win their fifth Voyageurs Cup tonight, but they could take a serious step in that direction. Or they could essentially lose it by allowing the Whitecaps to do what they did last time they visited BMO Field, and cut Toronto's defence open.
It was 4-3 on that night in May, and was easily Toronto's worst home performance of the year. The Whitecaps were good that night, but it was Toronto FC's mental lapses that really cost them. At the time, Greg Vanney called their early performance in that match "pathetic".
They will be looking to prove that match was just a blip on the radar tonight. Expect a much tighter and cagey affair than the wide open game that resulted in seven goals, and should have resulted in more, the last time the two met.
Toronto FC's defensive performance has been strong as of late, as they have just earned back-to-back clean sheets against the Montreal Impact in the Canadian Championship semi-final and then the LA Galaxy in league play.
Tonight, however, it is the offence that will likely make the difference. With the Vancouver Whitecaps being more than content with a scoreless draw, Toronto FC will have the difficult task of breaking down their backline.
It is something that the team struggled to do for most of the match against LA. Toronto FC has scored more than one goal just a single time in the last six matches: a 4-2 win over the Montreal Impact.
The good news for Toronto is that Sebastian Giovinco has been fairly quiet recently, and is due for an explosive match at any moment. It could have happened against the LA Galaxy, but Jelle Van Damme did a good job of keeping the Italian in check for most of the match, by any means necessary.
Key to the Game: Watch the Wings
Mistakes burned Toronto FC when they last lost to the Whitecaps, but it was also their play down the wings. The majority of the Whitecaps goals were orchestrated from out wide as Kekuta Manneh had a field day with Toronto FC defenders.
A large part of this was because Steven Beitashour and Justin Morrow had pushed too far up the field, and therefore allowed the Whitecaps to get in behind. They will likely be more rooted to their spots tonight, should they start.
The other issue was giveaways in the midfield which led to Vancouver counterattacks. Toronto FC would be wise to be more careful with their passing tonight, as a defensive Vancouver will once again be looking at any opportunity to get themselves in front.
Toronto FC: Irwin; Morrow, Moor, Zavaleta, Beitashour; Cheyrou, Johnson, Delgado, Osorio; Babouli, Giovinco
Subs: Bono, Hagglund, Williams, Chapman, Endoh, Hamilton, Edwards
Whitecaps: Tornaghi; Aird, Waston, Kah, Adekugbe; McKendry, Teibert; Bolaños, Morales, Davies; Rivero
Location: BMO Field, Toronto, ON
Kick-off time: 7:30 PM Eastern
SB Nation OPPOSITION Blog: 86 Forever
Available TV: TSN4
Available streaming: TSN Go
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.