The Headliner: Slim Margins, Big Prize
Toronto FC knew they had missed an opportunity to take a stranglehold on the Voyageurs Cup final after the first leg. The failed to convert a number of chances in that home leg, and the Vancouver Whitecaps left town down only 1-0. Margins were always going to be slim going into BC Place tonight.
But Toronto FC couldn't have imagined how difficult a task would be ahead of them. Courtesy of injuries to Clint Irwin and Michael Bradley, Toronto FC will be short staffed in all the wrong areas going into this match.
They could certainly have used that veteran presence, going into a BC Place Stadium where the Whitecaps are incredibly comfortable. During the semi-final round of this competition, the Whitecaps were down 2-0 after the away leg in Ottawa, but came home and dominated the Fury 3-0 at home, and it could have been more.
Toronto FC would do well to learn from the mistakes of the Fury: namely to be ready to absorb the Whitecaps early pressure, and to attack themselves. An away goal for Toronto FC and the Whitecaps would once again have to come up with three goals at home to win. Toronto FC has only conceded three goals twice this season.
History, however, only plays so much of a role in cup finals. Simply put, there are 90 minutes separating Toronto FC from their fifth Voyageurs Cup, but as aforementioned, a lot of challenges that they will have to overcome first.
Key to the Game: Smart, But Not Overprotective
When they have needed to, Toronto FC has done a great job of shutting down games on the road this season. In the Voyageurs Cup semi-final against the Montreal Impact, they played to a dry 0-0 result in Montreal after winning the first leg 4-2. It was a perfect performance, and the reason they are now one game away from hoisting the trophy.
There are two factors that play into Toronto's strong defensive game. One is the improved soccer IQ, the benefit of having players like Benoit Cheyrou and Drew Moor in the lineup. These players can make sure that everyone in the Toronto lineup is positioned well and ready to defend as a unit.
However, Toronto as a team has also done a good job of not easy allowing teams into their half. In fact, against Montreal they had the better chances of the two teams as they worked the ball forward and really threatened the Impact. Provided Toronto is always ready for a counterattack, offense is the best defense they can have tonight.
Toronto FC: Bono; Hagglund, Zavaleta, Moor, Morrow; Delgado, Johnson, Cheyrou, Osorio; Giovinco, Babouli
Subs: Roberts, Bloom, Williams, Chapman, Endoh, Edwards, Hamilton.
Whitecaps: Ousted; Parker, Jacobson, Waston, Harvey; Laba, Teibert; Bolaños, Morales, Manneh; Hurtado
Location: BC Place Vancouver, BC
Kick-off time: 10:00 PM Eastern
SB Nation OPPOSITION Blog: 86 Forever
Available TV: TSN 4
Available streaming: TSN Go
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.