Competition: Major League Soccer – Vancouver Whitecaps vs Toronto FC
Venue: BC Place – Saturday, March 7 – 18:00 ET (23:00 GMT)
Match Odds: Vancouver 23/20 – Draw 23/10 – 12/5
Vancouver Whitecaps and Toronto FC will battle each other in an intriguing Canadian clash to open their 2015 Major League Soccer campaigns on Saturday night with both teams heading into the new season with confidence.
The Whitecaps were the only Canadian side to make the playoffs last season and will want to prove they are still the country’s best team when they come up against a Toronto side with new stars hoping to shine as they look to get their first MLS points away at Vancouver.
Vancouver ended the last campaign unbeaten in five games, winning four of those, and will hope to pick up where they left off in front of their own fans against their rivals.
Toronto will have to deal with what should be a hostile environment at BC Place in their first MLS game in Vancouver since 2013. They lost 1-0 in their last league visit in the opening game of the 2013 season but the Reds will be hoping for a better result this time around.
The two sides met three times in total last year. The MLS game between the rivals ended in a 1-1 draw at BMO Field while they also met twice in the Canadian Championship semi-final, with each side winning 2-1 at home before Toronto advanced to the final after beating Vancouver on penalties at BC Place.
Toronto ended the last campaign in poor form as they didn’t register a victory in their final five, losing four, and failed to win in any of their last six away games. The additions of Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco as Designated Players have caught the attention of everyone across MLS and the attacking duo will hope to hit the ground running on Saturday night.
Vancouver have a new DP attacker of their own in the shape of Octavio Rivero and both sides should set out to try and win the game in what could be a really entertaining opener.
Vancouver Whitecaps have no injury concerns ahead of their season opener and come into the game fresh and ready to go. Head coach Carl Robinson will be likely to give Pa Modou Kah and Octavio Rivero their first starts after impressing in preseason.
Toronto head coach Greg Vanney will be hoping Benoit Cheyrou and Justin Morrow recover after leaving last week’s final preseason game with knocks. Cheyrou picked up a toe injury but should start in midfield alongside Michael Bradley while Morrow aggravated an ankle injury but should also be fine to start at left-back. Giovinco and Altidore will expect to start in attack.
Vancouver Whitecaps’ form: N/A
Toronto FC’s form: N/A
Key Stat: Squeaky clean – Vancouver have kept a clean-sheet in five of their past seven home games in MLS and have also recorded a clean-sheet in their last two MLS games at home to Toronto in 2012 and 2013.
Key Player: Pedro Morales – The Vancouver Whitecaps playmaker was the team’s top scorer in 2014 and scooped the MLS Newcomer Award for his fine performances. He will hope to start his second season in the same fashion as last year, scoring in a home win for the Whitecaps.
Vancouver Whitecaps 2-2 Toronto FC – Both sides come into the new season full of optimism but there is little to separate the sides on paper ahead of this one. Attacking players should impress in a high-scoring draw.