Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney has boasted about his long bench this season, going so far as to say he thinks this TFC side is one of the deepest teams in Major League Soccer history.
This has been incredibly busy week for the Toronto, so Vanney will need every bit of his depth on Friday night when the Reds host the New England Revolution at BMO Field.
The showdown with the Revolution comes on the heels of Toronto earning a 1-1 draw against the Montreal Impact at Stade Saputo on Wednesday night in the first leg of the Canadian Championship final. Under normal circumstances, TFC would have an extra day of rest ahead of Friday’s encounter, but a number of scheduling issues and conflicts meant they have less than 48 hours between games.
It’s not exactly ideal for TFC from a preparation standpoint, but they’re not harping on about the short turnaround. There’s simply nothing they can do about the schedule at this point.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who are ready to play,” Vanney said after the Montreal match.
“We left some guys home who are preparing; got a group here who are ready to turn it around as well. It’s one of those unprecedented moments where you’ve got to come up with something. We’ve got a lot of guys who are hungry.”
Playing two games in the space of 48 hours poses physical challenges. But Vanney admitted that the toughest challenge to his players will be emotional.
“When you come off a game [like] this, to recover emotionally and put a similar competitive spirit out in 48 hours… that’s one of the toughest things in professional sports,” Vanney offered.
Unlike Toronto, New England is fully rested, having previously played last Saturday when they dropped a 2-1 decision at home to the Chicago Fire.
To his credit, Vanney isn’t using the lack of prep time as an excuse ahead of Friday’s game, and admitted that some players who featured in Montreal could see action against the Revolution.
“We’ll have a mixed group, some who played tonight and some who didn’t. They’ll give everything they have. I’m confident in our group. I’ve said it before, and I keep hearing that I talked about our depth, but I believe in our group, the guys will step out on Friday to win the game,” Vanney explained.
Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley is suspended for Friday’s match due to yellow card accumulation. French midfielder Benoit Cheyrou is expected to start in his place. Panamanian Armando Cooper, who didn’t make the trip to Montreal, could replace Marky Delgado, who played a full 90 minutes against the Impact.
Also, Jozy Altidore started up front alongside Canadian Jordan Hamilton against Montreal, while Sebastian Giovinco came off the bench in the second half. Look for Altidore and Giovinco to reverse roles on Friday night.
Vanney said this week that Tosaint Ricketts could see some minutes, likely as a substitute, against the Revolution. The Canadian forward has missed the club’s last three games while nursing a hamstring strain.
Friday marks the second of three contests between TFC and the Revolution. The Revs earned a 3-0 home win on June 3, a result that ended Toronto’s eight-game unbeaten run (with seven wins) in the league. It was only Toronto’s second loss in MLS, and their worst performance of the season.
“Obviously, we were disappointed with the loss in New England, so we feel like we owe those guys something,” Canadian winger Raheem Edwards stated.
TFC hosts the Impact next Tuesday in the return leg of the Canadian Championship final, and then takes on FC Dallas in Texas in MLS play next Saturday.