Canadian title hopes hinge on goal bonanza in showdown with defending champions
After defeating the Montreal Impact 1-0 in a Canadian Championship game last month, Toronto FC coach Chris Cummins lamented his side's missed scoring chances.
"We've got to be careful it doesn't come back to bite us on the backside," Cummins said that night.
Now it has.
TFC fell 2-0 to the Vancouver Whitecaps on Tuesday night as Ansu Toure netted goals in the 31st and 81st minutes for the hosts.
At the start of the evening, TFC needed only a tie to clinch their first trophy – the Voyageurs Cup – and book passage to the CONCACAF Champions League against the top teams in North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
By the end of it, TFC (2-1) had not only fallen to second place behind Vancouver (3-1) but given themselves the enormous task of going to Montreal (0-3) on June 18 needing to beat the defending champion Impact by four goals.
To put that into perspective, TFC has scored four goals just once in 79 games – Major League Soccer regular season and Nutrilite Canadian Championship – over their 2 1/2 seasons as a franchise.
"You have to be clinical at this level and if you're not you get punished," Cummins told reporters after TFC again missed an array of scoring chances in the loss to Vancouver.
In the first game here between the two teams on May 6, TFC beat Vancouver 1-0 but dominated and should have won by a wider margin.
After three games, Toronto has six points and a goal differential of zero – two for and two against. But Vancouver has finished its games with nine points and a differential of plus-four – five for and one against.
Cummins acknowledged his side faces a tall task on June 18.
"We've got to go there. We've got to score goals," Cummins said of the date with Montreal. "We're confident going into any game but again if we don't show the desire, that passion, that energy, then we won't get anything out of the game."
If TFC, the only MLS team in the competition, cannot come back and win the championship, it would cost more than just bragging rights.
Winning the title guarantees at least two extra games – one at home, one on the road – in a preliminary round. But if a team goes all the way to the final, then it plays 14 more times, which would be a big benefit to the club's coffers through the seven extra home dates.
Last year, Montreal, which along with Vancouver is a member of the United Soccer Leagues First Division, made it all the way to the quarter-finals. That meant 10 extra games – five at home, five on the road – capped by one which drew 55,571 fans to Olympic Stadium.