It may not make for a particularly enjoyable spectacle for Toronto FC fans today, but Greg Vanney is doing the right thing.
Before the match against the Houston Dynamo, the Reds coach hinted that he had mapped out some squad rotation through a very busy May schedule in order to keep his side fresh and healthy. On Friday night, it emerged that he was not going to go about it half-heartedly.
The Seattle Sounders have not lost at home since July, three weeks before Sigi Schmid was fired. On normal rest, this was always going to represent one of the toughest games of the season for Toronto. Having played a one-goal game on Wednesday night and then landed in Washington on Friday morning... well, it’s a big ask.
So Vanney has decided to focus on the Columbus Crew rematch on Wednesday instead. That’s not to say that TFC are throwing the towel in at CenturyLink Field; if they can dig in defensively and perhaps benefit from the imperfect finishing that has troubled the Sounders on occasion this season, a point is absolutely a possibility. The likelihood of getting a win out of one of these two games, though, was not going to be greatly increased by hauling the full squad out west. It may be by allowing four key players to rest up ahead of the slightly less daunting fixture in midweek.
To be frank, it is a shambles Toronto find themselves in this position in the first place. This game will be nationally televised both sides of the border, and yet the visiting team comes into it having played less than 72 hours earlier and then travelled across a continent. How does that happen in a league serious about anything?
It’s a shame, because this is it in 2017 for arguably the two best teams in MLS; they will not meet again this season unless it is, once again, for the trophy. While the build-up will inevitably centre around last season’s final, it will be difficult to feel that this is a match of true significance without its biggest star in attendance.
TV channel & live stream
TV: CTV & TSN 2 (Canada), ESPN (USA)
Stream: TSN Go (Canada), WatchESPN (USA)
Radio: TSN 1050 (Toronto), KIRO 97.3 FM & El Rey 1360 AM (Seattle)
Drew Moor remains out for Toronto and, as mentioned, Sebastian Giovinco, Steven Beitashour, Eriq Zavaleta and Victor Vazquez have not travelled.
Seattle have Jordan Morris, Brad Evans, Chad Marshall and Roman Torres available, though one or two may be held back as a precaution. Aaron Kovar and Oniel Fisher are training lightly but will not feature in this one.
Seattle: Frei; Delem, Svensson, Torres, Jones; Roldan, Alonso; Lodeiro, Dempsey, Morris; Bruin.
Subs: Miller, Alfaro, Evans, Mathers, Shipp, Fernandez, Adekoya.
Toronto: Irwin; Hernandez, Hagglund, Mavinga; Edwards; Delgado, Bradley, Cheyrou, Morrow; Chapman; Altidore.
Subs: Bono, Endoh, Osorio, Hamilton, Cooper, Alseth, Ricketts.