Carl's Keys to the Game

Valentine tells us what the 'Caps need to do to defeat Toronto FC

 

  1.  Start and maintain a high tempo

Martin Rennie will want his team to make BC Place a fortress again this season. Our fans will be buzzing leading up to kickoff, and keeping up the energy and engagement in the stands will be key to keeping the energy high on the field – the two go hand-in-hand. A good example of this was that inaugural home opener in 2011. The players and fans fed off each other to make for a super-charged atmosphere.

Most likely, Toronto will put lots of bodies behind the ball to counter this. They’ll want to slow the match down to frustrate our ‘Caps. We will need our speedy wingers and creative attackers to find penetrating balls to get behind their defence, pump crosses into the box and – if they drop real deep – unleash shots from distance. This will create excitement for our fans and momentum for our team.

  1. Defend set plays.

As I mentioned before, I believe Toronto will give concede a majority of possession to our ‘Caps and try to catch us on the counterattack.

In matches like this, defensive teams really look to capitalize on set plays, so I imagine TFC will have done a lot of work on that during their last couple of training sessions. For me this will be Toronto’s best chance of scoring.

It will be very important for Rennie and his staff to make sure everybody knows what they are doing on corners kicks and free kicks so we do not give away any cheap goals. It could be that we will be attacking for most of the game, but we can’t afford to fall asleep on set plays.

  1. Use the width of the field

Another tactic many MLS teams will use on the road is to narrow the field, keep things tight so it’s easy to defend and then try to nick a goal when opportunity knocks.

To counter this, I’ll be looking for our ‘Caps to stretch the field from touchline to touchline by getting the ball out wide. We can’t let Toronto have time to face up and ready themselves in their defensive shape and positioning. We want to get them turned around facing their own goal, in a foot race with our speedy attackers.