Toronto, Ont.—With just two weeks left before the season opener, Toronto will continue its preparation against the L.A. Galaxy Saturday night in Los Angeles with kickoff scheduled for 6 p.m. EST. As with all preseason matches, there will be no stream available for tonight’s game.
By all indications, Toronto will get its first look at MLS’ newest star, Javier “Chicharito” Hernández. The Mexican international was granted his work visa this week which will allow him to be named to the Galaxy squad head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto choose to do so.
The Reds have seen different skill levels through their first three matches this preseason which has included tilts against the Colorado Rapids, UC Irvine, and an LAFC team that was well ahead of TFC in their preseason preparations given their involvement in the Concacaf Champions League.
After keeping a clean sheet in the first two games, the Reds conceded three goals to LAFC, albeit two of those goals came in the second half against a largely rotated Toronto squad. Going up against Chicharito, however, should provide a tough test to a Toronto squad that’s looking to sharpen itself ahead of their season opening visit to San Jose.
In Chicharito, the Toronto defence will have to contend with a striker who has been playing in competitive matches for Sevilla over the last number of months. Even with a “mid-season” break which included him securing his move to L.A., Chicharito might be the sharpest striker this Toronto squad has faced so far this preseason.
TFC is coming off of a 3-1 loss to LAFC which saw rookie Ifunanyachi Achara net the lone goal for the Reds. Greg Vanney stressed the importance of seeing these preseason games as a good exercise and using these matches as a learning experience.
Speaking after the LAFC match, Vanney said, “It was an exercise, that’s what all of these games are, and today was different than the last one which is a good thing. And, hopefully, Saturday gives us something a little different as well. We’ll take away the things we need to take away and keep moving on.”
If Vanney wants his team to walk away with a few lessons from these games, Chicharito might be a willing participant to help the cause. If he does feature, Hernandez will want to put on a performance for the home crowd that will leave Galaxy fans itching to get the season started.
For Toronto, heading into the final weeks of preseason will be more about increasing their fitness levels but also for a few players, like Achara, to show they can hang with the big boys. Although the 25th-overall pick likely won’t crack the opening day roster, he has been earning plenty of praise from Vanney for his performance and his finish against LAFC.
The rook did his best @Pozuelo_10 impression @AcharaIfy10 | #TFCLive https://t.co/gyDjhLbgQM pic.twitter.com/60SkeVrJCF— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) February 12, 2020
“He’s a smart player, moves nicely with the ball, he’s not afraid of any situations, got himself in transition today and a cheeky little finish there at the end, so showing a lot of confidence and composure,” Vanney said through torontofc.ca.
“He’s been a nice addition to the group and we’ll see as we continue to progress through these games what kind of role we can play for us going forward,” Vanney continued.
If Achari is able to keep playing at the level he found on Wednesday afternoon, the next few matches might not be the last with the senior squad.
Including tonight’s match, Toronto has three games left on it preseason schedule:
- Sat, Feb. 15: vs. LA Galaxy @ 6 pm ET (Dignity Health Sports Park - Carson, Calif.)
- Wed, Feb. 19: Chicago Fire @ 6 pm ET (UC Irvine - Irvine, Calif.)
- Sat, Feb. 22: vs. Colorado Rapids @ 3 pm ET (Dignity Health Sports Park - Carson, Calif.)