FT — What a game. Toronto FC pick up their first point of the season after a late goal from Osorio.
90+4’ — WHAT A SAVE BY ALEX BONO TO DENY RAPOSO
90’ — SIX minutes of added time. Can either side find a winner?
82’ — Toronto FC 2-2 Vancouver Whitecaps — What just happened?!?! After a cross from Michael Bradley, and some pinball near the Whitecaps penalty area, Jonathan Osorio ended up with the ball. His shot was saved by Maxime Crépeau, but it creeped toward the net, and when Crépeau tried to slap the ball away from danger, it went off his own post and back into the net.
It wasn’t pretty, but TFC will take it.
80’ — Cristián Gutiérrez and Richie Laryea collided, and both looked to be in a lot of of pain, but stay on the pitch.
80’ — 10 minutes left for Toronto FC to try and find an equalizer.
78’ — Ayo Akinola is coming on for his first appearance of 2021. He replaces Noble Okello.
73’ — Another hydration break. Toronto FC need to regroup here and find a goal.
70’ — Toronto FC 1-2 Vancouver Whitecaps — After a bad challenge from Omar Gonzalez gives away a free kick, Cristián Gutiérrez curls a cross onto the head of Andy Rose, who heads home from close range.
61’ — Osorio, Altidore and Shaffelburg replace DeLeon, Mullins and Auro for Toronto.
55’ — Toronto FC 1-1 Vancouver Whitecaps — Cristian Dájome ties it up for the Whitecaps from the spot.
54’ — Richie Laryea trips Lucas Cavallini in the area, and the Whitecaps have a penalty. Cavallini went down easily, but there’s no doubt that it was a foul.
46’ — We’re back for the second half! Justin Morrow has come off the bench to replace Jayden Nelson for TFC.
HT — Solid half for The Reds. Luke Singh has looked good at the back, and his early goal sees Toronto up 1-0. Big 45 minutes coming up!
45’ — Two minutes of stoppage time to be added on.
42’ — The Whitecaps are picking up the pace a bit. They’re starting to ask more questions of Bono and the TFC defenders, but can’t find a breakthrough.
37’ — Nice diving save from Alex Bono to keep out a free kick. It might have been heading just wide, but still an impressive effort.
28’ — Hydration break for the two sides. The sun is shining down in Orlando, so I’m sure this break is a welcome one.
23’ (and 13 seconds) — Nice to hear the Danny Dichio chant echo around Exploria Stadium at the time where he scored Toronto FC’s first goal back in 2007. A little taste of home in Toronto FC’s temporary home.
20’ — Obviously Toronto want their starters to be back healthy sooner rather than later, but the young guns have looked pretty good again in these opening 20 minutes. Singh, Okello and Nelson all involved early.
7’ — Toronto FC 1-0 Vancouver Whitecaps — GOALLLLLLL! Luke Singh continues his solid start to the season by firing home the opening goal from a few yards out. That’s exactly the start Toronto FC wanted.
1’ — Kickoff at BMO Fi-, uh, Exploria Stadium! Toronto FC’s 2021 MLS home opener is underway.
3:00 pm EST — Not long now! Are we all as excited to see Jayden Nelson start as much as I am?
2:50 pm EST — Let’s hope Toronto FC play better than FC Cincinnati... They’re down 5-0 over at Yankee Stadium.
2:40 pm EST — About 20 minutes until this one kicks off. What do you think of the Toronto FC lineup today? Let us know in the comments!
Toronto FC Starting XI vs. #VWFC: Bono; Laryea, Singh, Gonzalez, Auro Jr; Bradley, Delgado, Okello; DeLeon, Nelson, Mullins— Waking the Red (@WakingtheRed) April 24, 2021
Ayo Akinola, Jozy Altidore, and Jonathan Osorio all make the bench for the Reds. pic.twitter.com/17jwHvbSiz
Preview — Written by Aasim Hashim
After a tough outing last week against CF Montreal, the Reds take to the pitch once again on Saturday against another Canadian rival, the Vancouver Whitecaps. Kick off is scheduled for 3 PM EST and can be watched on TSN 1 & 4.
Saturday’s match at Exploria Stadium, will officially be TFC’s home opener and while it is usually a special game for the club and its fans, it will lack the flair and excitement that usually comes along with a BMO Field home opener. Speaking ahead of Saturday’s “home opener,” Chris Armas commented on the unusual circumstances surrounding his first home match with the club.
“My official first home opener will be when we are back with our supporters,” acknowledged the TFC head coach. “We’re going to make it (Exploria Stadium) our home for a bit, but I haven’t thought of it that way.”
Goalkeeper Alex Bono who’s been a part of six home openers since joining the Reds, echoed the head coach’s sentiment, and reiterated that this will be treated like any other game.
“It’s different, it’s difficult but at the end of the day it’s just another game,” said Bono. “We just have to see it as a game; fans, no fans,” continued Bono.
With that said, it’s obvious that the TFC camp has been fully focused on putting last week’s result behind them and looking ahead to what will once again be another busy week for the club. After last week’s performance, Armas made it clear that from start to finish it was an unacceptable performance from his squad. A week off however, has provided the head coach and his coaching staff to once again emphasize Armas’ vision.
“We quickly got back to work,” said Armas in his pre-match press conference. “So there wasn’t any overarching messaging. It was understanding what’s ahead...and so much of what we’ve done is get back to our basics, and all the little things even in that game that we did well and areas we have to get back on the same page. It’s about me and the staff creating clarity.”
— Waking the Red (@WakingtheRed) April 23, 2021
Ahead of Saturday's match, @AnthonyKhoury4 takes another trip down memory lane, this time looking back at every player that has suited up for both @TorontoFC and @WhitecapsFC #TFCLive | #VWFChttps://t.co/otodHH4EGi
It’s still early days in the Armas era, so this should come as no surprise to the TFC faithful. In wins and in losses, there are going to parts of the game that the coaching staff is going to want to develop and improve upon.
One of the aspects of TFC’s game that was evident still needs work is the transition game. With everyone playing higher up the pitch in this new more aggressive system, it’s clear that there will be room behind the back. In the season opener, Montreal was able to exploit this space as it helped create the second goal for the opposition.
Playing a high-pressing game requires everyone on the pitch to be in sync and to be aggressive to eliminate an attacking threat, including goalkeepers. Speaking with the media ahead of Saturday’s match, veteran goalkeeper Alex Bono provided some insight into the role that him and fellow goalie Quentin Westberg need to play in order to act as an extension of the back line.
“It’s no secret that one area we could be exposed is long balls over the top,” said Bono. “We’ve been working a lot with the goalkeepers in team training, as a goalkeeper group with being on the front foot and being off our line, cutting out through balls.”
Armas will have a decision to make as to who the better choice will be for this week. Bono, who has started in each of TFC’s three games this season, will be getting more and more comfortable with this new style. Westberg meanwhile, who missed the first match due to personal reasons but was on the bench last week, has shown a natural ability to read the game well under previous head coach Greg Vanney and is excellent with ball at his feet.
The Vancouver Whitecaps, meanwhile, opened their season with a 1-0 win against the Portland Timbers last week on a set piece goal from Canadian international Lucas Cavallini. Speaking with the media on Thursday, Armas highlighted the strengths of this Vancouver squad, including their threat from dead ball situations.
“It’s clear to see how they’re dangerous,” said Armas. “On set pieces, on transition. They’re organized and a well coached team.”
Along with the transition game we’ve already touched on, TFC also gave up a goal on a Montreal corner kick last week, and it will have been another part of the game that the TFC coaching staff will have worked on with the squad heading into Saturday’s matchup.
While this TFC team, as in the recent past, is not one to make excuses, one reason for last week’s lacklustre performance could be down to a lack of rotation and ultimately fatigue.
The week off will have done the squad some good, but TFC have another quick turnaround as the Reds will host Cruz Azul in the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League on Tuesday.
The good news is that Armas will have more options to pick from as more and more players come off the injury list. Striker Jozy Altidore and midfielder Jonathan Osorio look set to make their MLS season debuts this weekend.
However, Reds fans will have to wait just a little while longer to see Alejandro Pozuelo and Chris Mavinga make their debuts—although Chris Armas noted that both players were close to returning.
Liam Fraser, meanwhile, was the latest TFC player to find his name on the injury report.
Liam Fraser is latest casualty to join the #TFCLive injury report:— Michael Singh (@MichaelSingh94) April 23, 2021
QUESTIONABLE: Jozy Altidore
FWIW, Chris Armas told us yesterday that Jozy & Oso would be available.
A lack of healthy players is always going to make a coach’s job much more difficult. But now as the squad continues to get healthy, and senior players make their return to the squad, TFC will need to continue to improve and execute on the pitch to show that their season opening loss was just a blip.
How to watch
Opponent: Vancouver Whitecaps
Time: 3 PM EST
Watch: TSN1/4 & CTV
Location: Exploria Stadium, Orlando, Florida