MLS takeaways: TFC stay focused on Champions League


• Toronto FC 0, Colorado Rapids 2 (Price 2′, Gashi 78′)

With its focus firmly on the CONCACAF Champions League final, Toronto FC not so surprisingly dropped three points on Saturday in MLS play as coach Greg Vanney fielded a reserve side in Denver.


1. Vanney plays the kids and reserves
Under-strength doesn’t even begin to describe the starting lineup that TFC coach Greg Vanney set out for this MLS regular season contest. Fresh off a historic midweek result against Club America, and with the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final against Chivas Guadalajara scheduled for Tuesday at BMO Field, Vanney made 10 lineup changes from the 1-1 draw at Estadio Azteca, with Drew Moor the only one who retained his place.

Choosing to prioritize the Champions League, Vanney decided to give most of his starters the night off – and, in fact, goalkeeper Alex Bono, defenders Auro and Gregory van der Wiel, midfielders Marky Delgado and Jonathan Osorio, and forwards Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore didn’t even travel to Colorado. Captain Michael Bradley did make the trip, but he was on the bench. Defenders Chris Mavinga and Justin Morrow, and playmaker Victor Vazquez remained unavailable due to injuries.

Vanney’s starting 11 featured seven players who had yet to earn a start in MLS this season, and four who hadn’t even played a single minute, including Jason Hernandez, who re-signed with the Reds on Friday (his previous appearance was Sept. 16, 2017). Two others made their first-team debuts for Toronto on Saturday: Liam Fraser and Ryan Telfer. Telfer was one of three players signed by the Reds from the TFC 2 farm club on Friday. Julian Dunn, a 17-year-old from TFC 2 who also signed in the lead-up this game, debuted as a second-half substitute.

2. Lack of cohesion
Vanney’s reserve side enjoyed 57 per cent possession, and produced 16 totals shots in the game, just one less than the Rapids. There was no lack of individual quality in this TFC lineup, but the lack of communication and cohesion was pretty clear from the start. For all of TFC’s possession, they offered very little going forward and hardly looked threatening in attack.

That was to be expected, considering the makeshift nature of the team that took to the field and that most of the players had never played with each other before Saturday.

On the bright side, …read more



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