MLS Back in Canada: Toronto FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Toronto FC

PREVIEWToronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps FC will resume their MLS seasons on August 18 at BMO Field. Both teams made it to the Round of 16 in the MiB Tournament. They both had different roads there with TFC winning the group with one win and two ties and the Whitecaps barely squeaked through with a 2-0 win over the Chicago Fire.

Both teams though had the same fate losing in the Round of 16. However, it is important to remember that the results in the knockout stage do not count towards the MLS season.

Toronto FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC Preview

For the MiB Tournament, Thomas Hasal of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC was nominated with the golden glove award according to mlssoccer.com. Ayo Akinola of Toronto FC has also been nominated as the best young player of the tournament. These two players and Alejandro Pozuelo of TFC are also part of the Best XI presented by BODYARMOR.

Toronto FC

Yes, Toronto FC was knocked out early. However, their success in the other five games is a big reason why TFC is second in the Eastern Conference. Toronto FC has a record of two wins and three ties, which totals nine points. They are one of only four teams who has not lost a game.

There are many reasons for this. Unexpected start-ups like Akinola and 2020 MLS SuperDraft pick Ifunanyachi Achara played a big role in TFC’s success this year. They have scored six of Toronto FC’s nine goals this year. Richie Laryea also scored two goals for TFC.

According to Michael Tierney of Waking the Red, Pozuelo is relishing the opportunity of passing the ball accurately to Akinola. This is because of Akinola’s commitment to running and getting behind the opposing team’s backline.

Jonathan David, who played against Pozuelo in the top Belgian league had good things to say about Pozuelo according to Jerry Mancini of World Football Index.

“For me, a very good player,” David said of Pozuelo. “Very technical, creative and this guy can score goals, create goals when he wants.”

It is important to note that Pozuelo also has good chemistry with Altidore. According to Mancini’s article, Pozuelo’s five assists in Altidore’s goals is the third-highest assist to goal ratio in the 2019 MLS season.

The other notable player who performed well is Pozuelo who has scored one goal. Pozuelo has had five assists. This is the most assists of any MLS player in the 2020 MLS season.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC

The Whitecaps are currently eighth in the Western Conference with six points. They are only a point behind the Colorado Rapids who hold the seventh and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

It is important to note that FC Dallas, who had to withdraw from the MiB Tournament because of positive tests are three points behind the Whitecaps. They have scored seven goals in the 2020 MLS season.

They were also missing several key players like Lucas Cavallini and Tosaint Ricketts. It was commendable that they were able to make the Round of 16 despite all the injuries/absences. Marc Dos Santos, head coach of the Whitecaps played a big role in that. This is what he said according to Benjamin Baer of mlssoccer.com:

“The process was first, we have to defend very well and once we get that right and we tire Chicago, we knew had weapons on the bench to win.”

A big part of that plan worked though because of Hasal. He stepped up in their last group stage game against the Chicago Fire and also in their only knockout game against Sporting Kansas City.

Looking at their wins, the Whitecaps’ most impressive win was against the LA Galaxy. In this game, Ricketts was the hero scoring the only goal in the game.

However, a lot of credit needs to be given to the other Whitecaps players that made the Round of 16 despite several injuries on the team.

Injuries/Absences and Things to Work on

Toronto FC will have both Akinola and Justin Morrow when they return to play. The only player not playing is Achara, who will be out for the rest of the 2020 MLS season.

Sadly, Bryan Meredith lost his mother according to MLSsoccer.com. He will miss the game at BMO Field against Toronto FC. Condolences and well wishes should be given to Meredith and his family.

The good news is that the Whitecaps should have many of the players that were missing in the MiB Tournament. The question is who will be the goalkeeper of the Whitecaps.

Specifically for August 18, with Meredith not playing, it will be between Maxime Crépeau and Hasal. Yes, Hasal may have the edge to start for the Whitecaps, but Crépeau is a good goalkeeper and is one of the best current MLS players in Canada.

Both teams need to work on their defense. Toronto FC has given up seven goals and the Whitecaps has given up 10 goals. In particular, both teams have given up leads late in the game. For example, Toronto FC was winning 2-0 against D.C. United and the Whitecaps 2-1 over the San Jose Earthquakes after the first half.

D.C. United tied the game late against TFC. The Whitecaps gave up the lead and lost 4-3 to the San Jose Earthquakes. It will be something both teams need to address.

Overview of Toronto FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC Preview

They both have good players that can score. As mentioned before, TFC has a lot of strikers like Altidore and Akinola that can score goals.

The Whitecaps scoring has been more balanced as Cristian Dájome is the only Caps player to score more than one goal this year. Furthermore, only David Milinković and Ali Adnan have more than one assist.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC is a good team when healthy and will be putting their best effort against Toronto FC. However, TFC is still the defending MLS Eastern Conference Champions and should be favourites to win the game.

Lastly, this game is not just a continuation of the MLS season. The team with the most points in the first phase of the MLS season between the three Canadian MLS teams will face the winner of the CPL’s “The Island Games.” This will be the 2020 Canadian Championship Final and the Voyageurs Cup winner will qualify for the 2021 Concacaf Champions League.

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