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FT: Colorado Rapids 2-0 Toronto FC — Early goal sinks TFC youngsters

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Not one to remember, that’s for sure.

MLS: Toronto FC at Colorado Rapids Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

That’s all she wrote. Toronto FC lose 2-0 to the Colorado Rapids, reversing the scoreline between these two sides from their February meeting at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Reds fall to 1-0-3 on the MLS season, although a defeat in this particular game is hardly surprising.

Three young Reds made their TFC debuts — Liam Fraser, Ryan Telfer, and Julian Dunn. What did you think of them? Fraser ultimately committed the “foul” for the penalty, but can he be blamed?

Personally, I don’t think it was a terrible performance, just a little stunted. TFC seemed perpetually unable to get anything really dangerous going in the final third. They were pretty visibly missing the width of their usual fullbacks, and the midfield cohesion Michael Bradley brings.

TFC may not be breaking any points records this year, but they’ll surely be fine once they start shifting their focus to the league. Are you concerned?


76’ Colorado Rapids 2-0 Toronto FC — Welp. Liam Fraser gets called for a pretty soft foul in the box, and the Rapids get a penalty. Shkelzen Gashi scores it down the middle. It’s been fun, guys.

75’ — Greg Vanney uses his final sub to bring on another TFC II product, Julian Dunn, to replace Drew Moor. Dunn makes his MLS debut at 17 years old.

70’ — SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING

56’ — Ben Spencer is coming off, although not for who I expected he might. Ashtone Morgan is coming into the game. If nothing else, that might be a good omen for Justin Morrow’s potential return.

55’ — TFC might be lucky not to be two down now. Dom Badji came screaming down the left wing, easily outstripping Zavaleta, but put it way wide of the far post. In fairness, Drew Moor did an excellent job getting back and limiting his options.

46’ — Greg Vanney is using his first substitution of the day, swapping in (confusingly) Eriq Zavaleta for Jason Hernandez. Hm. Fitness might be an issue with Hernandez, especially playing at altitude. That also could possibly bode well for another defender coming back from injury on Tuesday.


Halftime in Commerce City! The Reds are down 1-0, but it wasn’t all bad. Both teams have 10 shots, although only two of Toronto’s have been on target. We’ve seen some good movement from Ager Aketxe, Jordan Hamilton, and Jay Chapman in my opinion. Ben Spencer, perhaps less so.

What are your thoughts?


28’ — Clint Irwin has come up with huge saves on Dominique Badji twice now. He hasn’t really missed a beat in sitting out for that long.

22’ — Hamilton has arguably been TFC’s best player so far today, showing off the skill several times. We don’t see him in that wide role too often, it’s interesting. Jay Chapman and Ager Aketxe have also looked aggressive in attacking, both bringing a lot of pace.

8’ — Jordan Hamilton flashes his skill with an incredible turn at the corner of the box, and sends a pretty good cross in, but Tosaint Ricketts can’t connect with the diving header.

2’ Colorado Rapids 1-0 Toronto FC — Well that was fast. Ryan Telfer can’t quite clear the ball away, and Jack Price sends a screamer past Clint Irwin from the top of the box. Buckle up, folks.

1’ — Game on! Let’s see what this group has to offer.


Gaaame day! Some of Toronto FC are in Commerce City today, and they’ll be taking on the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park this afternoon. It’ll be quite a different experience from the Reds’ CONCACAF Champions League opener on February 20 — for one thing, the temperature will be in the positives (around 12, it looks like).

TFC are expected to be fielded a heavily rotated side today. In fact, it seems likely that the only regular starter they play will be Michael Bradley, who, as we all know, does not get fatigued like we mortals do. Instead, it’ll be a weird mélange of youngsters and bench players, with a lot of valuable minutes up for grabs to those who don’t get much playing time.

God knows which of the recently signed TFC II players will see the field; I think we’ll at the very least see Liam Fraser start, after appearing on the bench over the past few games. Ayo Akinola could also definitely get a shout, as could Julian Dunn since the Reds are so thin at the back right now.

I think the player I’m most excited for today, though, is Ager Aketxe. We all know he’s an incredibly talented midfielder, he just has yet to put it all together for Toronto. I think that this could very easily be his breakout game with TFC; he’ll likely be the most talented player on the pitch, and as the go-to guy he should get plenty of opportunities with the ball at his feet. Wouldn’t we all just love to see him score one of those left-footed screamers?

Aketxe could start at the top of a midfield diamond, if that’s what Greg Vanney goes with. All I want to see is him somewhere in the centre of the park taking orders from Bradley and shipping the ball out to someone like Jordan Hamilton.

Ironically, Toronto FC will be treating this game much the same way the Colorado Rapids treated their CCL round of 16 tie: as a low-priority preparation game. So, the Rapids will definitely be looking to capitalize and steal some valuable points off a team that would normally be much stronger than them.

Colorado have been alright to start the season, currently sitting eighth in the Western Conference with a win, two draws and a loss. The best team they’ve played so far is probably Sporting Kansas City, who they drew 2-2.

Striker Dominique Badji has started the season extremely well, scoring four goals total (although three of them came in one game against the Philadelphia Union). The Rapids are not as bad a team as they were last year, generally looking for low-scoring, defensive-minded results. They’ve only scored seven goals, but they’ve also allowed just five.

Where are you at for this game? Excited to see TFC #playyourkids? Ambivalent at best? Angry that they’ve so completely shirked this game? Just watching it to pass time before the Raptors and Leafs games?

Let us know.

(Warning: Despite the title, definitely not a video for kids.)

Team news: injuries & suspensions

Toronto FC:

Yeah, pretty much everybody. Victor Vazquez, Chris Mavinga, Justin Morrow and Nick Hagglund were the ones injured before Tuesday’s game. Jozy Altidore and Gregory van der Wiel came off during the match. As for the rest... well, let’s say that Sebastian Giovinco, Jonathan Osorio, Marky Delgado, Auro, and Alex Bono are all quite fatigued.

Colorado Rapids: The Rapids also have a couple players out, most notably wingback Marlon Hairston and defender Kortne Ford, both of whom have long-term injuries.

Pre-game reading

Toronto FC sign three players from TFC II (Charlie O’Connor-Clarke)

How to watch

Match date/time: 3 p.m. EST, Saturday, April 14
TV: TSN 1 & 4, CTV (Canada), Altitude Sports (Colorado)
Live stream: TSN Go (Canada), MLS Live, ESPN+
Radio: TSN 1050 (Toronto)

Lineups

Toronto FC:

Colorado Rapids: