TFC II closes out their 2016 season on Saturday night south of the border with an away match at the Rochester Rhinos.
Fresh off what was widely proclaimed to be their best performance of the season – a 2-1 win over Orlando City B on September 11 – the young Reds will be looking to end the campaign on a positive note, despite the year not going as well as hoped.
TFC II have already been eliminated from post-season contention. They currently sit in twelfth place in the Eastern Conference on 26 points from 29 matches. But a win on the final day could see them move as high tenth, displacing both the Harrisburg City Islanders and Bethlehem Steel FC, who both currently have 28 points.
The two sides have already met twice this season, with TFC II taking points on both occasions: a 2-1 win back in June and a 1-1 draw in July. Both matches were played at the Ontario Soccer Centre.
And a solid win would be the perfect way to close out the calendar before regrouping and preparing to do it all again next year, hopefully, with more success.
Kickoff is set for 5:05 pm EST, mere moments after the big club begins their match against the Philadelphia Union. As such, there will be no live coverage in the game thread, but if desired a time can be set for a virtual viewing party on Sunday.
Tune in live via the stream below, or check in after the fact, as the match will be archived once it has been completed.
Hot on the heels of that strong win over Orlando, there have been plenty of positives to be gleaned from the side's recent adventures.
Ben Spencer made his long-awaited debut after injury-layoff, while Quillan Roberts was back between the pipes for the first time in months. He didn't have a whole lot to do on the night, but rose to the occasion when called upon.
Clement Simonin continues his return from injury as well, while several on the TFC II roster showed what they could offer.
Liam Fraser was very impressive in his deep-lying position, pulling the strings and orchestrating. Luca Uccello exhibited a wonderful tenacity and workrate, while the forward tandem of Ricardo John and Shaan Hundal were a delight to watch. Never mind the driving runs of Raheem Edwards, Malik Johnson, and Brian James.
Wesley Charpie was a force up the right-flank too.
Plenty of promise for the future of the club on display.
Their opponent this weekend, Rochester, have already secured themselves a playoff spot – they sit in sixth place in the conference, on 48 points. And they will have plenty to play for, as a win can see them move as high as fourth, which provides the benefit of home-field advantage, at least in the first round of play.
Rochester also enters in solid form, riding an eight-game unbeaten run – their last loss came on August 3 at home against the Richmond Kicks.
They have four wins and four draws over that spell, including five results on the road – their unbeaten streak at home is just three matches, though they have lost just twice all season in the comfy confines of the imaginatively named Rochester Rhinos Stadium.
In USL terms, the Rhinos are a venerable old club, having been founded back in 1996 when they were part of the old A-League. And they are American soccer royalty to a certain extent, having hoisted the US Open Cup back in 1999 – they remain the only non-MLS team to lift that trophy since MLS' inception in 1996.
They have an affiliation with the New England Revolution, which has seen Donnie Smith and Jordan McCrary spend some time, albeit limited, with the Rhinos on loan from the MLS club.
Interestingly, Rochester has very few names familiar to MLS observers, but there are two Canadians on the roster: midfielder Ryan James and defender Dominic Samuel.
James is a Mississauga-native who played college ball at Bowling Green University. He was selected by Sporting KC in the third round of the 2016 SuperDraft, but did not sign. While Samuel spent four years at Southern New Hampshire University and trialled with the Revolution after a stint with Sigma FC, landing with Rochester.
Both have been solid contributors, racking up 27 and 25 appearances respectively. Ones to keep an eye on for sure.
Pre-match Video Interviews: Jason Bent, Malik Johnson, Skylar Thomas
Both Bent and Quillan Roberts spoke last week as well when the club had a byeweek.
Match Hashtag: #ROCvTOR
Club Twitter Handles: @TorontoFCII @RochesterRhinos