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All-Canadian Match Preview: Toronto FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (Part 2)

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Toronto FC look to keep rolling at BMO Field taking on their west coast rivals for the second time in three days.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Toronto FC
Toronto FC will look to recreate Tuesday’s magic on Friday night.
Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

TORONTO, Ont.—After a dazzling display on Tuesday night, Toronto FC will look to replicate the same kind of performance Friday night against the very same opponent: the Vancouver Whitecaps. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m EST.

Tuesday night ticked off a lot of boxes for Greg Vanney’s side. The Reds finished the match with a clean sheet, Jozy Altidore and Jonathan Osorio were both fit to start, and Pablo Piatti had a game to remember in his first outing at BMO field, finding the back of the net twice, including an absolute screamer to open his Reds account.

Simply put, the Reds played the way many expect them too—by dominating possession and dominating the score sheet.

It’s clear that the challenge with this type of format is going to be the short turnaround between games. While on paper Vancouver shouldn’t be much of a problem for TFC, it will be interesting to see how both Vanney and Marc Dos Santos tweak tactics ahead of Friday night’s match. Teams don’t often play each other in back-to-back games in the MLS, and they rarely do it on two nights’ rest. So, while Toronto may have had a dominating display on Tuesday night, there is still a lot to play for and Vancouver won’t roll over as easily this time.

As mentioned, Tuesday also saw the return of Osorio to the TFC starting XI, and over the course of 90 minutes, you could see how much TFC missed him during most of the MLS is Back Tournament. His ‘directness’ and combination play with Michael Bradley and Alejandro Pozuelo added an extremely important dimension to the Reds’ midfield. Unsurprisingly, after Tuesday’s matchup, Vanney was very complimentary of the Canadian international.

“He slides in seamlessly,” Vanney said. “His relationship with Michael [Bradley] and Marky [Delgado] and Poz is so good. These guys have played so many games and big games together; they’re so comfortable together and read off of each other. It was nice to have him back because that’s a big part of what makes things tick for us.”

Toronto FC will have a week off after Friday night’s encounter but with a busy schedule ahead— starting with Montreal next weekend—it’ll be important to keep Osorio fit through this portion of the MLS schedule.

Speaking of players that need to stay fit, could Friday night see Bradley be given a rare night off? It’s probably not going to happen, but one has to think that it’s something Vanney has considered. While Bradley had a fantastic MLS is Back tournament, his fitness has not been at the same ‘Bradley levels’ used to seeing, especially late in games. Could a night off the TFC skipper well?

What might help Vanney make that decision is the ease with which the entire Toronto defence was able to handle Vancouver’s offence. The Whitecaps welcomed back Lucas Cavallini, Andy Rose and former Red Tossaint Ricketts to the match, but Toronto’s experienced centre-backs were able to deal with the Whitecaps offence all night as the ‘Caps registered just one shot on Quentin Westberg’s net. And while you can probably be sure Vancouver wont have the same type of performance twice, Toronto is clearly deeper and has more talent in midfield that finding the right balance could provide some valuable time off for the Toronto skipper.

Additional Notes

  • With his assist on Tuesday night, Pozuelo now has six assists in six matches in 2020.
  • Tuesday’s 3-0 win meant Toronto has now extended its regular season unbeaten run to 16 games.