The Vancouver Whitecaps roll back East to square off against Toronto FC in the first leg of the Canadian Championship Semi-final. Carl Robinson and his boys (literally) will try to get a positive result at BMO Field to help bring them to victory when they finish off the series next week back at BC Place.
The Whitecaps coach is staying true to his word and will be giving young players the opportunity to showcase their talent and gain valuable experience in a tournament that has eluded the Whitecaps in previous years and has supporters eager to celebrate at last. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
With regular starting players such as Ousted, Harvey, DeMerit, O'Brien, and Reo-Coker not even on the tournament roster, fresh faces like Jordan Haynes, Marco Bustos, Kianz Froese and Marco Carducci will get the opportunity to suit up and give those supporters who are not familiar with them a glimpse of what may be a very bright future for the Whitecaps.
Seventeen-year-old goalkeeper Marco Carducci is reported to get the nod in net for the boys in Blue and White, but the young Whitecaps squad have their work cut out for them as the Reds are most likely going to field their best starting XI with players like Jermain Defoe, Michael Bradley and Julio Cesar most likely coming into the mix.
It makes sense that TFC will try to finish off the series early as they will be playing at home knowing that they will be facing a somewhat inexperienced Whitecaps squad. Also, the Reds have a bye this weekend so they will have a full week to rest and prepare for the second leg of the Amway back in Vancouver while the Whitecaps have to make another stop on Saturday in Columbus to battle the Crew.
Perhaps more importantly, Toronto has lost three of its last four and is currently on a three-game losing streak in MLS. Pressure is building on Ryan Nelsen's squad, so turning the ship around is a top priority.
A key for the Whitecaps will be to settle in early and not let the nerves get the best out of them. Maintaining focus and concentration throughout the entire match will be paramount as this is something that has been lacking thus far in 2014. Toronto FC's front lines have players like Defoe, De Rosario and Gilberto. Good communication and solidity in the back line will be especially important in order to get a good result. Finally, TFC's biggest weakness is their own defensive line. Speed and fluidity will put them on their back heels, and the Whitecaps could take advantage and get some always important away goals.
I am excited to see both Marco(s) (Carducci and Bustos). Which young Whitecaps player are you most excited to see?