Many of you may be disheartened from TFC being eliminated from the Amway Canadian Championship by rival Montreal Impact, however if you still want your Toronto FC fix, then TFC II is your team to watch. They began their rigorous road trip on Saturday when the Rochester Rhinos just squeaked a victory over them in the 90th minute. To be fair, the Rhinos are the best team in the league by far.
Now TFC II faces a fellow expansion squad in Saint Louis FC and will then head straight to Louisville where they will face the Louisville City FC on Saturday.
That game is still days away, so let's just focus on Saint Louis FC.
Saint Louis FC
Saint Louis joined the USL around the same time as TFC II was announced and have actually done pretty well in the league, considering they are a new team. Their oldest players, Kentaro Tanaka and Mike Ambersley, are 32 years old, while the rest of the team is around their mid twenties. The youngest being 21 years of age. That already tops TFC II oldest player, who is 24 years old.
Age is but a number for TFC II, but for Saint Louis, it's key. The team sits in sixth in the East and are third in the league with only five goals against.
That is thanks to the strong defence the team has. Both Parker Maher and James Musa have been in the team's starting defenders and have shown their abilities with helping their side only conceive five goals so far.
The teams strong point is defence, but their weak up front. They have only scored six goals so far, one less then TFC II. They have six players tied for first in scoring, with everyone contributing.
Saint Louis may be an expansion side, but do have a partnership with MLS side Chicago Fire. The Fire have loaned out defender Patrick Doody and keeper Alec Kann, so what for those two.
When asked what players he has looked at closely TFC II head coach Jason Bent said, "Brandon Barklage, he was a central midfielder player. I know him from his time from when he played for DC United, as well as San Jose Earthquakes. He's not a natural central midfield player, he's a right back by trade."
He also mentioned to keep an eye on Jamaican striker Jermain Lynch, "Who is pretty big and solid".
This week, TFC II needs to at least grab a point in these two games coming up. They sit in 11th place in the East with a 1-4-1 record. The loss in Rochester was very hard to swallow, but this young team is not done at all.
"In all truth we do have a lot of young players, but at the same time, part of us doesn't want to be called the 'baby reds' we want to be called TFC II, which we are. We're men, we go out there and win games." said full back Wesley Charpie, one of a few TFC II players who have played in all of the clubs matches so far.
TFC II will be without leading goalscorer Mo Babouli in Saint Louis after he received a red card in the 84th minute on Saturday. The loss will be a big one for TFC II, as Babouli has shown he can be a top striker for any club.
"Now that were at the pro level, we have to control our emotions." said TFC II wide midfielder Luca Uccello after having to deal with his side receiving three straight red cards.
"We have to look at to get a win. Look to build off it as the month progresses'." added Uccello about what his side needs to do tonight.
Uccello then added that, "We have some great players on this team, Mo [Babouli] is a great goalscorer so is Jordan Hamilton. I think it just takes that little bit of extra focus. In front of the net we have to be ruthless."
Playing all these road games must have a toll on such young players? "I think it's a positive. On the road it allows us to sort of bound more as a team." mentioned the young Canadian.
"We definitely have a good relationship. In the long run, this will make us a stronger team." added Charpie.
"Making sure that we have our energy and shape about us." said Bent about what his team needs to think about when playing two games in three days.
"Last game, I watched it back and we were sort of in transition defensively, then we get into the attacking third and didn't sustain possession in their third in order to create more opportunities." mentioned the TFC II head coach about what was missing from his team in Rochester last Saturday.
He did note that transition plays like the nice through ball from Babouli to Jordan Hamilton that almost lead to a goal was a good effort, but the team still needs to work on transitioning better.
While Quillan Roberts is with the first team, while usual starter Joe Bendik is out with a foot injury, how will the keeper minutes be divided in these two crucial games? "Alex Bono will be the starting goalkeeper. We're looking at things in terms of backup keeper to Bono. Could be Engbers or could be someone else."
TFC II is still hungry for a win, and Saint Louis may not seem like a easy team to beat. The young Reds did play an impressive game versus the Rhinos, only conceding in extra time to the first place team in the league is not a bad result for a young TFC II team.
That being said, I think TFC II draws Saint Louis FC tonight and will use all of their subs again to make sure everyone is fresh for Saturdays game.
The game can be seen on torontofc.ca/live at 8:00 PM EST.