Leading up to this week’s away match to Vancouver, most TFC season ticket holders were excited to receive their 2017 season package in the mail. TFC fans were anticipating their first away victory of the season as they traveled to BC Place to face the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday March 18, 2017. Carl Robinson’s squad were also anticipating their first win of the season as they went into this match with one loss and one draw.
Going into this match Toronto FC were without Sebastian Giovinco who was in Italy seeing his personal specialist after suffering knock in the previous week’s match against the Philadelphia Union. The good news was that Steven Beitashour was returning to the TFC lineup after being absent due to a mild concussion.
Greg Vanney called up the following players for TFC starting eleven:
Alex Bono received his first start at goal of the season. The 22 year old played most of the second part of TFC’s 2016 season to replace an injured Clint Irwin. Tosaint Ricketts started up front alongside Jozy Altidore. TFC featured two Canadians in their starting eleven (three more on the bench) unlike the previous game in which there were none.
There were 20, 438 in attendance to witness the first all Canadian MLS encounter of the season at BC place. Ismail Elfath was the appointed referee of the match who was not a popular choice amongst TFC fans. During the 2016 season Elfath issued two red cards to Toronto FC.
Both teams created chances throughout the first half of the game. Michael Bradley set up Nick Hagglund for terrific service which went far off the post in the 18th minute. Justin Morrow was looking for a penalty in the 26th minute as he went down in the area. Referee Elfath called a corner kick instead. Whitecap’s latest acquisition Freddy Montero came up strong in the 32nd and 38th minute. Both teams were scoreless at half.
During the second half while both teams were looking to take the lead, Greg Vanney made the first TFC substitution of the game taking off Armando Cooper for Victor Vasquez in the 64th minute. During the 70th minute Whitecaps defender Brek Shea was issued a yellow card for a foul on Nick Hagglund and was immediately issued a second yellow card for dissent, as he not only swore at referee Elfath but repeated the comment as if Elfath did not hear him the first time. The sending off of Brek Shea was the turning point of this match as TFC would capitalize on their one man advantage.
TFC’s second substitution came in the 75th minute as Nick Hagglund came off for TFC youth academy graduate Raheem Edwards. Within seconds this move would pay off. Edwards would cross to Altidore, who headed it to Vasquez, who headed into the back of the Whitecaps net giving him his first TFC goal, and a 1-0 lead. TFC added to their scoreline just 5 minutes later as Jozy Altidore scored his second goal of the season with a nice turn goal.
TFC’s final substitution came in the 81st minute as Chris Mavinga came on for Tosaint Ricketts. TFC earned their first victory of the season on the road. They are currently in 3rd position in the Eastern Conference with 5 points and go into March 31 home opener against Sporting Kansas City with an undefeated record of one win and two draws. TFC ended the match with 55% ball possession and 6 total shots against Vancouver’s 5 shots.
At the end of the match TFC Captain Michael Bradley was happy with the result but admitted that “There’s still a lot to work on,” Bradley said. “But through three games to be unbeaten, to have five points . . . we’re excited.”