Competition: Major League Soccer – Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Toronto FC
Venue: BC Place – Saturday, March 18 – 16:00 ET (20:00 GMT – Live on Sky Sports Mix in UK)
Match Odds: Vancouver 11/8 – Draw 9/4 – Toronto 15/8
The Whitecaps let a 2-0 lead slip at San Jose last weekend, losing 3-2 after goalkeeper David Ousted was sent off in the first half. They will be without their excellent stopper here and need to defend better than they did last time out if they are to take anything from this game.
Carl Robinson’s squad might also be suffering from fatigue after travelling to Tigres for the first-leg of their CONCACAF Champions League semi-final on Tuesday. They lost that game 2-0 and are in desperate need of a pick-me-up against Toronto.
Vancouver need to give their supporters something to cheer about this weekend, especially after their home opener ended 0-0 against Philadelphia two weeks ago.
Toronto FC have drawn both of their games to begin the new season and while that in itself isn’t great, the fact that both have come on the road means the Reds are still in a strong position in the East.
The major concern for Toronto this weekend is that they will be without star man Sebastian Giovinco after the Atomic Ant left last week’s 2-2 draw in Philadelphia with a leg contusion. He is not expected to be out for long but he won’t be in Vancouver this weekend, instantly making the visitors less threatening.
Toronto’s draw at the Union last week was full of drama as both sides earned penalties and threw away leads in a back-and-forth contest. Greg Vanney will want his side to show more composure here as they look to take their first three points of 2017 against a side they have only beaten once in eight previous trips to BC Place.
These two sides met a total of three times last season, once in MLS and twice in the two-legged Canadian Championship final, which Toronto won on away goals in June. Vancouver won the regular season meeting 4-3 at BMO Field in an end-to-end goal fest.
Toronto are going to have to try and cope without Giovinco as he is in Italy receiving treatment on a leg contusion picked up at Philadelphia last weekend. Ashtone Morgan is still out while Steven Beitashour is a doubt after missing last week’s game with concussion.
Vancouver Whitecaps’ form: D/L
Toronto’s form: D/D
Key Stat: There have been 26 goals in the seven previous MLS regular season clashes between these sides – an average of 3.7 per game.
Key Player: Jozy Altidore – With Giovinco out, even more pressure is on Altidore’s shoulders to fire his side to three points in Vancouver this weekend. The powerful forward earned and converted the penalty that got Toronto back into last week’s game and he’ll look to cause havoc for stand-in ‘Caps goalkeeper Tornaghi.
Vancouver Whitecaps 1-2 Toronto FC – This is an intriguing game as both sides are missing star players in Ousted and Giovinco. Vancouver’s midweek trip to Mexico might leave them feeling the effects against a Toronto side that has had a full week to recover from their draw at Philadelphia. There should be goals here, but the away side look to be in a stronger position to go and get all three points.