For those of us living in British Columbia, at some point the joke has been made that Toronto is the Canadian “Center of the Universe,” or is treated as such. No important thing can possibly occur in Canada without it first happening in The Six. You know, because incorporated boroughs are the be all/end all.
So, please, before Friday, forget about all the goodwill you may have towards to Toronto Raptors. Get it out of your system right now, as best you can for another day, because Friday night it’s time for the annual pre-Voyageurs Cup showdown between our Vancouver Whitecaps and Toronto FC.
And if you don’t give a crap about basketball, you’re already a step ahead.
We reached out to Charlie O’Connor-Clarke over at Waking the Red to get some insight into how TFC’s season has played out so far, and what we might be able to expect ahead of Friday night’s all-Canadian mashup.
Considering the highs of 2017 and the lows of 2018, how nervy has the 2019 season been so far?
It’s been weird. Honestly, this year has definitely felt much more like 2018 than 2017; the club isn’t in quite as bad a spot standings-wise as they were this time last year, but things are slipping. TFC have scored twice in the last five games now. The season started quite well, and we thought 2018 might be a blip on the radar, but we’re seeing a lot of the same problems -- defensive head-scratchers, weird lineup choices, and lots of minor injuries -- that plagued Toronto last season. Once Jozy Altidore and Alejandro Pozuelo have a little more time together things should start to turn around, hopefully.
Given the timing of their transactions the comparisons were assumed and inevitable, but how well has Pozuelo performed in TFC’s first season after Sebastian Giovinco?
The jury is still out on Pozuelo, I think. His debut was completely spectacular, with two goals and an assist, and he was pretty much unplayable his first few games. Since then, though, he’s been a lot quieter. It’s hard to say whether it’s a tactical thing or if he’s feeling fatigued from his full season in Belgium, but he wasn’t as noticeable the last couple games (except when he got himself sent off against Real Salt Lake). He’s an exceptionally talented player much more akin to Victor Vazquez than Sebastian Giovinco (but much younger and fitter). I think he’s going to be unbelievable once he settles into the side, but he has a lot of people to convince.
Knowing it’s not just an away game, but a cross-contient match, can you hazard a guess as to what Vanney’s tactics may be?
Vanney’s tactics are always hard to predict. He really wants TFC to play a wide game with wingers, but they don’t really have anybody who can actually play those roles (and so he’s thrown several players out there to try and make it work). He definitely knows that the Caps now are a much tougher team than, say, the side TFC beat in the Canadian Championship last year. I expect him to still try and get the ball moving wide, but with Pozuelo returning to the lineup (and hopefully Michael Bradley as well), most of TFC’s threat should actually be central.