When the team sheets were released for last Wednesday's match between Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact, many were nervous around BMO Field. Toronto FC was playing a match full of young and inexperienced players, while Montreal had all three of their designated players in the lineup.
Very few would have suspected a win for Toronto FC, fewer still could have seen the side dominating the Montreal Impact in a 4-2 match. It could have been even worse if Didier Drogba hadn't flexed his muscles and earned two crucial away goals in the dying minutes of the match.
Going into tomorrow's second leg of the Voyageurs Cup semi-final, the first leg will create some interesting lineup decisions for Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney. He is expected to get a number of key players back from injury, begging the question as to whether he will introduce those new faces into the lineup.
There is also the question as to how Vanney handles the game tactically. Does he play a defense-oriented team looking to just park the bus and get through on the work they have already done in leg one? Or does he play a side that takes Montreal head on and tries to leave no doubt that they deserve a spot in the final.
In terms of roster decisions, let's go from front to back of the Toronto formation. The only easy decision Vanney has to make is it net, where it will almost certainly be Clint Irwin who gets the start tomorrow. There is no reason to change what has consistently been working in net this season, especially when Toronto needs to be solid defensively.
How Vanney handles who plays directly in front of Irwin, however, is interesting. In the second leg Toronto FC started only one of their regular defenders, and until the 85th minute it worked perfectly.
Steven Beitashour will almost certainly start at right back, a position where Toronto FC has precious few other options. In the centre of defence, however, Toronto FC has to decide whether or not they will return to their regular pairing of Drew Moor and Damien Perquis or give either Nick Hagglund or Eriq Zavaleta another chance to get some playing time.
The one defender who certainly deserves to start is Ashtone Morgan at left back. While Justin Morrow has started at left back in every MLS game Toronto has played this season, Morgan's stellar play was integral in the first leg victory.
In the midfield, Benoit Cheyrou will likely once again captain the Toronto side. Whether or not he is joined by Will Johnson remains to be seen, as the Canadian midfielder could be good to go after missing international duty with Canada due to a hip injury. The other question is who to start in the attacking midfielder position should Tsubasa Endoh and Jonathan Osorio both be available. After scoring a pair of goals in that spot in leg one, it would be hard not to give Osorio the job.
Up top, the question is what to do about Sebastian Giovinco if he is indeed available to start. There is no reason to take either of Mo Babouli or Jordan Hamilton out of the starting lineup after both had their best senior performance in a Toronto FC uniform against Montreal and showed good chemistry. More than likely, Giovinco will come off the bench and try to wreak havoc among the tired Montreal Impact defenders.
Tomorrow will answer all of these questions definitively, but Vanney certainly has some difficult decisions to sleep on ahead of the match.