Vancouver Whitecaps vs Toronto FC – Saturday 13:00 PST/16:00 EST BC Place – Vancouver.
Vancouver against Toronto will be the first Canadian Derby of the season. Although the two teams do have a history that could merit describing the matchup as a Canadian rivalry in geographic terms, Vancouver has a much stronger competitive history with their Cascadia rivals, Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders.
Toronto’s closest rivals, on the other hand, are the Montreal Impact, the team they faced last in the Eastern Conference finals of the MLS Cup. That said, there is plenty on the line when Canada’s western MLS outpost meets the team from the country’s biggest city.
The two clubs last met in the final of the Canadian Championship, which Toronto won 2-2 on aggregate. Vancouver had lost the game in Toronto 1-0, but was leading the second leg 2-0 with just seconds to play when Toronto’s Will Johnson made it 2-1, which was enough for Toronto to win the match on aggregate.
The Canadian Championship victory means that Toronto will now represent Canada in the 2017-18 CONCACAF Champions League. Vancouver, in the meantime, has had recent experience in the Champions League. The club is currently contesting the semi-final against Tigres UANL from Liga MX, with the first leg having taken place on Tuesday in Monterrey.
Vancouver lost that game 2-0, and now has a mountain to climb when the fixture returns to Vancouver on April 5. Indeed, Vancouver looked lost against a Tigres side that is hardly in form right now. The Mexicans squandered several chances, but Vancouver, coached by Carl Robinson, were hardly competitive in the tie, and seemed exhausted from the 70th minute onwards.
The match fitted in somewhat with Vancouver’s start in Major League Soccer. After eliminating New York Red Bulls in the quarterfinal of the Champions League, Vancouver grinded out a 0-0 draw against Philadelphia Union, and then threw away a 2-0 away lead against the San Jose Earthquakes. Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted was sent off with a red card, and Vancouver lost 3-2.
It will be interesting to see whether Carl Robinson can resurrect a side that will not only be exhausted from the trip down to Mexico, but also disappointed with their recent run of poor results. Perhaps Toronto at this point of the season will be just the right opponent for the Whitecaps.
Toronto, which finished the MLS Cup as runners up last season, started the Major League Soccer season with a 0-0 draw against Real Salt Lake, and a 2-2 draw against Philadelphia Union. Both games were played on the road, and neither result will be seen as a massive disappointment. At the same time, expectations in Toronto are massive after the club narrowly missed out on winning the MLS Cup last season.
The game in Vancouver will be Toronto’s third game on the road, and they will have to play it without Italian superstar Sebastian Giovinco, who went out with an injury against the Philadelphia Union. His absence will be unfavorable for Toronto, as the Italian is close to irreplaceable for the Reds.
Given Vancouver’s long trip down to Mexico and their recent run of disappointing results, Toronto should be slight favourites going into this match. But the injury to Giovinco, and the fact that this is Toronto’s third game on the road will make this anything but a foregone conclusion for Toronto.
Vancouver Whitecaps vs Toronto FC – Players to Watch
Both Fredy Montero, and Alphonso Davies were previously highlighted on this page, as players to watch. Davies, however, will not turn 17 till November and, given that he played on Tuesday in Mexico, there is a chance that Robinson will rest the winger. Robinson could very well elect to bring on Uruguayan forward, Nicolás Mezquida, which would mean that Montero would drop back in the false nine role. The 25-year-old Mezquida can be a dangerous man up front, and it would be interesting to watch how he would get along in a partnership with the Colombian star, Fredy Montero.
With Sebastian Giovinco out of the lineup for Toronto, all eyes will be on United States national team player, Jozy Altidore. A powerful forward with a strong finish, Altidore was the key player in Toronto’s run to the MLS Cup final. Furthermore, Altidore has also highlighted that he is not dependent on his congenial partner Giovinco to make an impact up front.
Vancouver Whitecaps vs Toronto FC – Match Stats
- This is the first meeting between the two clubs this season.
- In their last match Toronto beat Vancouver 2-1 in the Canadian Championship Final last season.
- Under Carl Robinson, Vancouver have won twice, lost four, and tied four times against Toronto.
Prediction: Vancouver Whitecaps vs Toronto FC 1-1
Tornaghi – Harvey, Waston, Parker, Williams – Flores, Laba – Techera, Montero, Bolaños – Mezquida
Coach: Carl Robinson
Irwin – Moor, Hagglund, Zavaleta – Morrow, Vázquez, Cooper, Bradley, Endoh – Altidore, Ricketts
Coach: Greg Vanney