On Wednesday night Toronto FC host Ottawa Fury FC at BMO Field for the second leg of their Canadian Championship semi-final. Toronto FC won the first leg 1-0, thanks to a wonderful strike from Jonathan Osorio.
The Canadian Championship rules require that all teams start at least three Canadian players, and Greg Vanney decided to double that, starting six Canadians, including Malik Johnson, who earned his first start with the big club. For this match I think Vanney will return to the 3-5-2 formation he selected against Chicago, while mixing in lots of young Canadian talent like he did against Ottawa.
The first leg for Clint Irwin was a rare opportunity for him to start, and he made the most of it. Irwin made a few nice saves, and stopped every shot sent his way, keeping a clean sheet. He will almost certainly get the start in leg 2, allowing Alex Bono to rest for Saturday’s match against Chicago and allowing him to get a few more minutes under his belt.
Eriq Zavaleta, Chris Mavinga, Jason Hernandez
Eriq Zavaleta has played a lot recently, so I think he will be started for this match, and take a seat on the bench on Saturday. Nick Hagglund was on the bench in Chicago, making a late substitute appearance, so he could start this one, but I think Vanney would rather use him in MLS action because of his current good form.
Chris Mavinga returned from a lengthy battle with injury in the last match, so I think Vanney will want to give him another match to try and build up his match fitness again. The same concept applies to Jason Hernandez, who has been out for quite a while, and needs to start being rotated back into the squad so he can become fully fit. He won’t get many chances to start in MLS, so this could be the perfect opportunity to give him a match.
Ashtone Morgan, Jonathan Osorio, Jay Chapman, Liam Fraser, Gregory van der Wiel
There is a very Canadian flavour to this midfield, as four Canadians have made it in. Morgan, Osorio, Chapman and Fraser all started in the first leg, and Osorio was once again TFC’s best player. He captained the Reds for the first time in his career, also scoring the only goal in the 1-0 victory. Toronto FC posted this cool video on their YouTube channel about Osorio’s performance on Wednesday:
Captain Osorio is definitely something I could get used to.
Jordan Hamilton, Ayo Akinola
Ayo Akinola has finally broken into the first team, but with the return of Jozy Altidore, will surely see his opportunities decline. Jordan Hamilton will also have limited opportunities with the return of Altidore, and both will see this match as an audition to be the first striker off the bench.