TORONTO – How does Greg Vanney celebrate a Canadian Championship title after the dust has finally settled?
Does Toronto FC’s coach open up a bottle of wine and stretch out on the couch? A late dinner with his wife Amy? Some horseplay with the kids in the basement before putting them to bed?
None of the above.
After TFC beat the Montreal Impact 2-1 at BMO Field on Tuesday night to clinch its second consecutive Canadian Championship, Vanney returned home and decided to kick back by reviewing the game. Not only that, he watched portions of Tuesday night’s FC Dallas vs Colorado Rapids match in order to scout his team’s next opponent in Major League Soccer.
"I went to bed late. I watched some of the [Montreal] game again. We start now turning our attention towards an important road trip, starting with Dallas [on Saturday]. I watched a bit of their game. It’s tough to sleep when you have big emotional games like that. It’s hard to just crash and go to sleep and turn off your mind, so I spent a little time doing that," Vanney told reporters after Wednesday morning’s practice.
Yes, you read that correctly. Roughly 12 hours after TFC hoisted the Voyageurs Cup trophy before a near-sellout crowd at BMO Field, Vanney held a team practice on Wednesday morning. Players who featured in the Montreal contest hit the gym, while Vanney put unused substitutes and those who didn’t dress through their paces during a full training session.
Needless to say, Toronto’s coach is clearly not resting on his laurels after Tuesday’s Canadian Championship win. With a road game against Dallas this weekend and another versus Orlando City next Wednesday, Vanney and the Reds can’t afford to let up or take a morning off.
They remain all business.
"It was a special night for this city and this organization," veteran defender Drew Moor stated.
"[Winning] the Canadian Championship was a big goal for us. We’ve achieved that and we’re going to enjoy it, and we’re going to be excited about it. But we’re halfway through the [MLS] season right now, and we’ve set even loftier goals for ourselves."
One of the reasons Vanney’s side can’t sit back and enjoy their success is because they simply don’t have the time to do so. TFC is in the midst of a gruelling part of the schedule that sees them play six times in a 19-day period. Last week, they played two matches within three days, and the Reds have endured similarly demanding stretches earlier in the campaign that saw them play a number of games over a short period of time.
As a result, TFC have become masters of navigating through crowded fixtures lists, with Vanney effectively rotating his squad and relying on his very deep bench.
"It’s a short turnaround for us, but we’ve got used to that at this point. It’s important that we put last night behind us and start looking towards finishing this week off strong," Moor stated.
The difficulty of the immediate task at hand for the Reds can’t be overstated, though, as both Dallas and Orlando are quality sides that have each only lost once at home this season. What’s more, Canadian Cyle Larin, one of the top forwards in MLS, has been cleared to play for Orlando next week after going through the league’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health program – he was recently arrested on a DUI charge in Florida.
"They’re two important games for us before we go into this [international] break. Dallas is going to be missing some players, but I feel like us, they’re extremely deep. When they are missing players, they don’t change a lot. They still are very exciting; they try to [hurt] you in transition. Mauro Diaz pulls the strings for them and that makes them dangerous," Moor warned.
Armando Cooper will be available to play in Dallas – he’s scheduled to join Panama’s national team the following day in preparation for the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Midfielders Raheem Edwards and Jonathan Osorio, and forward Tosaint Ricketts have already departed to hook up with the Canadian national team. They’ll miss both the Dallas and Orlando trips, as will defender Justin Morrow, who is currently away with the U.S. team.
NOTE: I chatted with Greg Vanney about recent criticisms of TFC forward Sebastian Giovinco. Look for my story on Thursday on Sportsnet.ca.