There’s nothing wrong with the Trillium Cup; in 20 years’ time it will probably still be around as a quaint, funny little throwback to earlier days of MLS. While there was no harm in the attempt to stoke a bit of a rivalry up for an expansion team, however, it’s hard to imagine that its relevance will not continue to fade as time goes on.
I put a very unscientific poll on Twitter yesterday:
The Trillium Cup: do you care?— Oliver Platt (@plattoli) May 25, 2017
The results were not especially surprising. If anything, there were more yeses than I expected.
Perhaps Greg Vanney can still use the Cup to provide a grain of motivation, though; this is an extremely competitive Toronto FC team that is beginning to taste success and keen for more wherever it can get its hands on it. It may focus a few minds in the Reds’ locker room if the task on Friday night is viewed in the context of closing out a challenging three-game series against the Crew over the past couple of months.
Toronto are desperate to prove they are not just a good team but one that gets over the line by any means necessary, so this match could be good practise for later in the campaign in that respect.
That is especially pertinent given the adversity they will have to overcome in the absences Vanney is dealing with this week, with Sebastian Giovinco out due to a quad injury and Jozy Altidore suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card against the New York Red Bulls. Toronto have regularly been in a position where they have had to cope without one of their two star strikers, but rarely both.
What the Reds will look like in their absence is hard to predict; of the strikers on the roster, Tosaint Ricketts, Jordan Hamilton and Ben Spencer are all available but the latter two are yet to make an MLS start this season. That Ricketts is more of a poacher than an all-rounder like Altidore, however, may force the coach to start one of them alongside the Canadian.
If not, Victor Vazquez, Jay Chapman and Raheem Edwards are all possibilities for more advanced roles. I’d especially like to see Edwards tried as a forward, and that would allow Vanney to accommodate the youngster, Justin Morrow and Chris Mavinga in the lineup when he might otherwise not be able to.
What Toronto must ensure is that Michael Bradley receives more help than he did in the first half of the two clubs’ most recent meeting at MAPFRE Stadium, when Federico Higuain ran the show for the Crew. The Reds have gone four games without keeping a clean sheet; securing one here would not only guarantee that the Trillium Cup remains at BMO Field but also give them a good shot at digging out a tough three points.
TV channel & live stream
TV: TSN 1/3/4/5 (Canada); BCSN2, CW Columbus, Spectrum Sports (USA)
Stream: TSN Go (Canada); MLS Live (out of market)
Radio: TSN 1050 (Toronto); CD 102.5, La Mega 103.1 (Ohio)
As mentioned, Toronto are without two of their designated players in Giovinco and Altidore as well as long-term absentee Nick Hagglund. Chris Mavinga and Eriq Zavaleta missed the defeat to the Ottawa Fury and Benoit Cheyrou was substituted with an injury, but all are available.
Columbus have lost Gaston Sauro and Ben Swanson for the season, but Artur and Ethan Finlay both trained on Thursday having been considered doubts.
Toronto: Bono; Zavaleta, Moor, Mavinga; Beitashour, Delgado, Bradley, Vazquez, Morrow; Ricketts, Spencer.
Subs: Irwin, Hernandez, Edwards, Cheyrou, Osorio, Cooper, Hamilton.
Columbus: Steffen; Afful, Naess, Mensah, Francis; Hansen, Trapp, Higuain, Meram; Kamara, Manneh.
Subs: Stuver, Williams, Crognale, Raitala, Artur, Finlay, Jahn.