TORONTO, Ont. - It will be a special night at BMO Field on Wednesday night as Toronto FC and York United look to book their ticket to the semi-finals of the Canadian Championship on Wednesday night.
The Reds will be hosting York United FC for the first matchup between these two clubs - which will mark the first ever Toronto Derby - and in doing so, will welcome back the Club’s first ever signing and captain, Jim Brennan, who is tasked with masterminding an upset against his former club.
Kick-off is scheduled for 7:30 PM EST and can be watched on OneSoccer.
Toronto FC will enter the tournament in the quarterfinal stage after receiving a bye through the preliminary round by being finalists of the 2020 tournament.
The Reds are coming into this match on the back snapping a six match winless streak. The Reds were able to do so thanks to a 2-1 victory against Nashville SC on Saturday night. It’s been well documented that this has been one of the worst seasons in franchise history, but being able to snap a long losing streak bodes well for Javier Perez’s side as they begin their run in this year’s tournament.
It’s been a busy stretch of games for the Reds, so Perez will also need to rotate his squad to ensure everyone is fresh. Perez may opt to go younger for a matchup againsting York, to provide some much needed rest to senior players, however when you consider the added complexity of needing a win on Wednesday, and perhaps more realistically, needing to win this tournament to try and salvage the 2021 season, you can see the dilemma facing the Reds boss.
Toronto is the most successful team in this tournament, having won the Canadian Championship seven times. Most recently, the Reds lifted this trophy in 2018. The Club were slated to play for another title in 2020, but the pandemic forced the match to be moved to a later date - that has yet to be played.
York United entered the tournament in the preliminary stage of the tournament and took care of business against League1 side Master’s Futbol Academy, cruising to a 5-0 victory. The CPL side currently sit fourth in league standings, and have been in excellent form as of late.
The Nine Stripes come into this game off of a 0-0 draw against HFX Wanderers - a result that extended their run of unbeaten games to five, which started at the beginning of September with a 2-2 draw against Atletico Ottawa. Over the course of their five match unbeaten run, York have won twice and drawn three times. Going back even further, York have lost just one time in their last 10 matches.
While all the pressure will be on the Reds to win on Wednesday - being the favorites in this matchup - there will be extra motivation in the York United squad, starting with Head Coach, Jim Brennan. Brennan, who appeared in 84 games for the Reds, is of course familiar with BMO Field, but knows what it takes to win the Canadian Championship, having won it on multiple occasions with Toronto FC, both as a player and as an executive.
Beyond Brennan, the York squad boasts numerous players who have ties to Toronto including a few who have played for the Toronto FC Academy before making the switch to York United. Those individuals in particular will be ready to play their role in facilitating an upset and book their ticket to the semi-final.
York United have shown that they’re not afraid to go forward and score goals, having scored the second most goals this season in the Canadian Premier League. The Reds so far this season have shown time and time again that the back-line is not what it used to be, even from last season, and this will give York United a fair bit of optimism heading into Wednesday night.
This Reds squad does boast a ton of experience from players who have played in this tournament as well as in the MLS Playoffs and the CONCACAF Champions League, but the single-knockout format adds to the intrigue of this matchup.
We have already seen an upset in the preliminary round of the tournament when the Vancouver Whitecaps were defeated 4-3 by Pacific FC. While Reds fans are certainly not going to want to see an upset, if there were ever a time for York United to orchestrate an upset and knock-off the most successful team in this competition, 2021just might be the year.
The winner of this matchup will move onto the semi-finals to take on the winner of the Cavalry FC and Pacific FC matchup, who also play on Wednesday night.
Toronto FC vs York United - Canadian Championship Quarter-finals
Stadium: BMO Field, Toronto, ON
Kick-off: 7:30 PM EST