Vancouver faces steep climb against TFC - Globe and Mail
The Vancouver Whitecaps' goal for today is simple: The United Soccer Leagues First Division team needs to defeat Toronto FC at BMO Field to keep alive its hopes of advancing to the CONCACAF Champions League tournament.
"We can't sit back and wait for [TFC] to make mistakes and [we] will need to put the pressure on them from the opening whistle," Whitecaps defender Steve Kindel said.
"We need to go for some goals here. We are minus-four in the tournament in goal differential, so if we have any chance of advancing in this competition, we will need to put the ball in the back of the net."
The Whitecaps have lost both their Canadian Championship matches to the Montreal Impact by identical 2-0 scores, including last Wednesday's loss in Burnaby B.C.
"That was very disappointing, especially to lose that last game at home," Kindel said. "We were looking to being right in the thick of the tournament. But if we get a win against Toronto, it will pull us a little bit closer."
TFC has played just once so far in the three-team, home-and-home event, recording a 1-0 win at Montreal's Saputo Stadium on May 27.
The winner of the tournament earns bragging rights as Canada's top professional soccer club and gains entry into the qualifying round of the CONCACAF Champions League. Canada's representative will then play the Nicaraguan champion in a home-and-away series to determine entrance to the CONCACAF group stages.
CONCACAF comprises countries in North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
To stay alive, the Whitecaps must win both of their remaining games against TFC and have some luck in the goal-differential department to overtake Montreal.
Vancouver sits in second place in the 11-team USL First Division with a record of 7-3-2; while Montreal has struggled and is third from the bottom at 4-6-3.
Toronto is in fourth spot in Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference at 6-5-3.
"[Vancouver is] not a second-class team," TFC head coach John Carver said. "We saw how tough the game was in Montreal recently, and Vancouver is flying in their league."
TFC is coming off a 2-1 road loss to the New England Revolution on Saturday, but is undefeated at home this season, with five wins.
Vancouver has enjoyed a six-day rest since its game against Montreal on Wednesday. The Whitecaps have had previous success against MLS opponents, including a 2-1 decision over David Beckham and the L.A. Galaxy at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton in May.
"We believe in ourselves and know we can do well against MLS competition. We just need to work hard and attack," striker Eduardo Sebrango said. "We also want to show people that USL teams can compete against the MLS in real competition."
The Whitecaps engineered a trade with Montreal ahead of today's game, sending midfielder Tony Donatelli to the Impact in exchange for Ivory Coast-born striker Charles Gbeke.
A spokesman for the Whitecaps said it is likely Gbeke will dress for today's game in Toronto if the necessary paperwork can be finalized with USL officials.
The Whitecaps also have two former TFC players in their lineup.
Defender Chris Pozniak has 21 caps for Canada and played with Toronto last season before he was traded to Chivas USA. Pozniak recently earned USL player of the week honours for his late equalizing goal in a 1-1 tie with the Miami FC Blues on June 22.
Canadian under-20 goalkeeper Srdjan Djekanovic was one of five 'keepers used by TFC during their inaugural 2007 campaign, but moved on to Vancouver in the off-season.
After today there are just two matches left in the Canadian Championship, with Toronto travelling to Swangard Stadium in Burnaby on July 9 for the return match against the Whitecaps, followed by a game at BMO Field against Montreal on July 22.