Game on! There was certainly some doubt that this match between the two Canadian rivals would even happen. Now that the MLS has agreed in principle to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, there will not be a work stoppage by the MLS Players Union. This was fantastic news for many Toronto FC supporters who are looking forward to finally seeing their once again revamped club begin playing meaningful soccer this coming Saturday against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Once again, Toronto FC begin their season on the road and thankfully so. Toronto weather is still well below the freezing mark, snow on the ground, wind-chill temperature in the double digits and as cold as -20c at night. It would be impossible to open the season at BMO Field regardless of the renovations being constructed on currently. The indoor stadium of BC Place will host the two clubs for the third time on opening weekend in their history. Vancouver won the previous two matches in 2011 and 2013 by a score line of 4-2 and 1-0 respectively. Will third time be the charm for Toronto FC?
As Stefan Caunter of Northern Starting XI will tell you, the Toronto FC have not fared well on the road, ever, period. Toronto’s road record in 2014 was a less than mediocre 4W-8L-5D earning them 17 points which was clearly not enough to propel them into the postseason. In addition, Toronto also hasn’t previously performed well in opening matches, with the exception of last season which saw Jermain Defoe score two goals against the Seattle Sounders. Their record in opening matches is an embarrassing 2-6-0.
Last season in league play, the Whitecaps visited Toronto and ended in a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes. The two also met in the Canadian Championship in 2014 which Toronto FC won after penalty kicks. The Whitecaps will certainly have all of this in the back of their minds come Saturday and wanting to give the high payroll club a warning of what could be in August. History aside, will the past be too hard to shake off? With the new additions and continuous transformation, does it even make sense to compare to yesteryear?
The projected starting lineup should be no surprise and could have a minor tweak or two but the core and formation is expected to be below. Of note, it has been learned that Mark Bloom, Jackson and Daniel Lovitz will be absent from Toronto’s lineup missing out on being selected.
Toronto FC supporters should be happy to know that the referee for the match will be Kevin Stott who has a wealth of experience. Stott has been refereeing since 1996 with 260 matches under his belt with 16 of them in 2014. Assisting him will be Mike Rottersman and Marco Arruda, with Baboucarr Jallow as the Fourth Official.
Get out your scarves everybody and be sure to watch on TSN at 6:00pm ET (3:00pm PT) if you’re not at the match. This rivalry between these two Canadian teams will be an exciting one and set the tone for the season. It also may be the first and only time they’re on the same pitch depending on how well they do in their first round matches of the Canadian Championship. Then again, this may just be the beginning.