On Wednesday, Toronto FC dismantled the Vancouver Whitecaps 5-2 at home to earn their third straight Canadian Championship and seventh in the history of the club.
The MLS Cup champions have also been guaranteed access to the next edition of the CONCACAF Champions League, representing Canada, hoping that come the tournament, TFC goes one step further than this year’s edition.
Given that this competition represents the Canadian nation, the attention shifted on any Canucks on the field, in particular Jonathan Osorio of Toronto and the Caps’ Alphonso Davies.
Osorio was coming at the back of two straight goals in the two-legged semi-final against the Ottawa Fury while he has been carrying his side in MLS with numerous goals and assists.
Meanwhile, Davies has just put pen to paper on a $13.5 million deal with Bundesliga heavyweights Bayern Munich, which could rise to above $21.5 million — a transfer fee that surpasses the $10 million Villarreal paid for then New York Red Bulls forward Jozy Altidore in 2008.
At the end of the two-legged, thrilling contest, Osorio claimed the spoils as TFC emerged winners and the 26-year old midfielder was awarded the MVP of the tournament accolade.
Osorio helpful in first leg
The TFC midfielder started as a central midfielder on the left-hand side in a 3-5-2 shape, a position in which he can be the most functional and effective for his side.
Buoyed by his recent performances, Osorio was keen to have an impact up front on the field. In the early stages of the game, he started to make his usual runs as an old-school incursore, exploiting depth and spraying balls to the flanks.
His play awareness, a trait which he developed in recent years, earned him the 1-1 goal as he made his way unmarked into the box to net his fifth goal in the Canadian Championship in 17 games.
As usual, the Canadian international was key in stretching himself down the left flank and connecting with passes in between the lines to send his teammates into space. Most of the time, he was tracked down by Davies who was contributing a lot to the defensive department.
Glimpses of Davies
The Whitecaps star did not shine a lot during these two encounters against the Canadian rivals but undoubtedly, his performance in the first leg was much more fruitful than the one at BMO, in particular because he was not 100% healthy ahead of the return game.
As usual, Davies started in Carl Robinson’s trademark 4-4-2 as a left midfielder, tasked by being the game changer up front and giving a helping hand at the back.
During the game, he shifted a lot of time to the right hand side of the field and when Vancouver attempted to make an offensive transition, he would slide up front next to Kei Kamara and form a 4-3-3 shape which helped the Caps to have more numbers up front, width and space to play the ball and space for the midfielders to exploit.
Aware of his threat, Chris Mavinga was constantly man-marking the 17-year-old star. However, Davies still managed to pose awkward questions to TFC’s backline especially in the one on one situations with Ashtone Morgan where Davies highlighted his pace, changes of speed and changes of direction which helped him to whip numerous crosses inside the box.
When Vancouver went a man down due to Felipe’s sending-off, Davies’ impact on the game diminished, as he went to help the midfield line in a conservative 4-4-1.
200 with an assist
The second leg at BMO Field was Osorio’s 200th appearance for TFC, a monumental milestone for a Canadian player who despite the loads of talent imported in, he remained a vital figure in the locker room.
At BMO, he started as a so-called mezzala in a 4-4-2 diamond shape, with Marky Delgado replacing Victor Vazquez at the last minute.
Delgado is definitely the unsung hero for TFC and whenever he is deployed on the field together with Osorio, they combine a lot especially when the team transitions.
In the early stages of the game, Osorio was not very much involved as the game was played at a high rhythm. However, as the first half wore on, he started to take more responsibility, shifting the ball from left to right and easing his way into the box.
His reward came late in the first 45 minutes, when he assisted Sebastian Giovinco on the 2-0 goal which all but sealed TFC’s championship fate.
Much was expected from the young Canadian in the return leg, and frankly, I was disappointed that he was not 100% fit for this game because he could have been a very interesting addition to what has been a one-sided affair.
Davies, who was declared fit a few hours prior to the game, swapped from left to right in the 4-4-2 tactical system imposed by Carl Robinson.
Despite playing just 50 minutes, Davies still managed to show something that he posses in his repertoire.
Although his runs were often cut by TFC’s physical approach on him, he was very helpful defensively, giving Vancouver a quicker transition from the back.
Moreover, the real threat in the first half came through his feet when he sent a long-range shot just inches wide.