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Preview: Toronto FC begins Canadian Championship campaign in Halifax

A spot in the Canadian Championship semi-finals is on the line on Tuesday night.

The youngsters are expected to be leading the way for Toronto FC on Tuesday night in Halifax.
“(Sean Pollock/Waking The Red)”

TORONTO, Ont. - For the first time in franchise history, Toronto FC and HFX Wanderers will face off when the Reds travel to Halifax for a battle with the Canadian Premier League side on Tuesday night.

Kick-off is scheduled for 6 pm EST and the game can be watched on OneSoccer.

There are a lot of connections between the Reds and the Wanderers from academy graduates to local boy Jacob Shaffelburg returning to his stomping grounds. Tuesday night will be special on both sides, so let’s take a look at where TFC and HFX stand heading into their matchup.

Toronto FC

League Record: 3-7-3, 13 points - 12th in MLS Eastern Conference

Team Leaders: Jesus Jimenez (7 goals), Alejandro Pozuelo & Jonathan Osorio (4 assists)

Recent result: 2-2 draw at D.C. United

Toronto FC’s form so far this season has been below par to say the least. The Reds are coming off of a draw in MLS, their first point in five matches. Bob Bradley’s squad is sorely lacking confidence, but a matchup against the Wanderers serves will see the Reds look to keep their momentum going and build on their latest result.

Typically, the Canadian Championship serves as a good opportunity to rotate your squad and provide your youth an opportunity to earn valuable first team experience. This year, however, the Reds’ approach may have to be different. TFC is already an extremely young team and Bradley has provided starring roles for a lot of his young players, such as Jayden Nelson, Luca Petrasso, and Ralph Priso, throughout the MLS season so far. In part, that has been the plan for the Reds this campaign, however, injuries and suspensions have also forced Bradley’s hand.

Nonetheless, expect the Reds boss to rotate his squad as much as he possibly can. Toronto is still dealing with the same injuries as over the weekend, including Jacob Shaffelburg, who’s availability is still questionable. However, expect Bradley to rest key players like Jesus Jimenez, and provide minutes to players who have yet to feature this season, such as Quentin Westberg.

HFX Wanderers FC

League Record: 2-2-3, 8 points - 7th in Canadian Premier League

Team Leaders: Cory Bent (2 goals), Zacahry Fernandez (1 assist)

Recent result: 4-0 loss vs Forge FC

Despite the Reds’ form, it’s safe to say that the Wanderers will be the underdog heading into this matchup. That’s not to say that the Halifax is just going to roll over and let the Reds advance. The sold out crowd at Wanderers Ground will do all they can to make it an unwelcoming environment for the visiting Reds.

In the Canadian Premier League, the Wanderers have struggled to find their feet through seven games. HFX has managed to score just seven goals through seven matches this season in the league, with their last CPL win coming in a 3-1 victory at home against FC Edmonton.

The Wanderers are coming off of a 4-0 loss to Forge FC on Friday night, and will want to use Tuesday’s matchup as a way to bounce back. Heading into their game on Friday night, the Wanderers made six changes to their lineup, understandably with a view ahead to their CanChamp clash with TFC.

HFX will look to continue their run in this year’s edition of the Canadian Championship. The Wanderers entered the competition in the preliminary round earlier this month, where they dispatched League1 Ontario side Guelph United 2-0 to punch their ticket into this week’s quarter-final round.

Cup matches are always intriguing because anything can happen. When you have an MLS side that has been faltering of late going up against a Canadian Premier League side with a lot to prove and on home soil, now that has all the makings of a potential ‘cupset.’