Toronto FC looking to bounce back after disappointing showing in Ottawa
Ottawa Fury's Sito Seoane celebrates scoring the Fury's game winning goal while Toronto FC's Mitchell Taintor looks on during the second half their Canadian championship semifinal soccer match at TD Place in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 23, 2017. (Patrick Doyle/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, May 30, 2017 5:10PM EDT
TORONTO -- Expect a different Toronto FC on Wednesday as the MLS club looks to rally from a 2-1 deficit against the Ottawa Fury in the second leg of their Canadian championship semifinal.
Toronto coach Greg Vanney is likely to field a stronger lineup at BMO Field, urging those involved to show more intensity and concentration this time around against a motivated USL opponent.
"I was disappointed in the group and because of that there will be some changes," Vanney said after training Tuesday.
A week ago in Ottawa, Vanney used just one regular starter (Justin Morrow). While Toronto's roster depth is a big part of the reason the club leads the MLS standings at 8-1-5, this particular mix did not work despite the starting unit's combined 840 MLS regular-season games.
Normal service resumed Friday when Toronto, its lineup repopulated with starters, thumped visiting Columbus 5-0.
Vanney expects a fired-up Ottawa team, looking to complete the upset.
"We're going to have to play with equal the emotion and try to be the better soccer team and make more plays," he said.
Vanney said the team was sloppy, among other things, in Ottawa. He clearly did not like what he saw.
"I do think there was some complacency in there," he said. "I don't know if I would say the entire group, I think there were sections to it."
He cited a "lack of team-wide attention to detail and concentration" that led to bad decisions. Vanney also pointed to Ottawa's artificial turf perhaps getting into some players' heads.
Wingback Raheem Edwards, who was sent off in stoppage time at TD Place Stadium for a second yellow card, agreed the team underperformed.
"We weren't ready to play, I believe ... We weren't fired up," said Edwards, who got a talking-to from Vanney in the wake of his ejection.
Added midfielder Jonathan Osorio: "We shouldn't take them lightly. I think maybe we did that the other game a little bit."
Bottom line, despite a valuable away goal, TFC has made life difficult for itself, said Vanney.
"I didn't give them the blow-dryer treatment as some would say, but I let them know in a very frank way that they've created a whole different scenario for themselves when they come here because you're going to get a team with triple the emotion they had there -- with nothing to lose, with everything to gain -- in a position of strength right now.
"They did themselves no favours for this return leg."
Toronto will be without captain Michael Bradley and striker Jozy Altidore, who are away with the U.S. national team. Edwards is suspended after being sent off. Defender Nick Hagglund (knee) is a longterm injury casualty.
Sebastian Giovinco could return, depending on late word from a specialist Tuesday. The Italian striker has been sidelined since straining a quad strain April 13 against Minnesota United.
If he is ready to go, he is probably more likely to play Wednesday on BMO Field's grass rather than Saturday on the artificial -- albeit recently laid -- turf at New England.
Ottawa took a 2-0 lead over the Whitecaps at the same stage of the competition last year, before losing the second leg 3-0 in Vancouver.
Coach and GM Paul Dalglish says the Fury are looking to complete the upset this time.
"We're in a really good moment right now and it's much easier to recover from games when you're winning," Dalglish said in a statement. "We're ready. All the pressure is on TFC, nobody expects us to get anything from the game.
"So I've told the players to enjoy it and savour the moment, but we're not going there as tourists, we're going there to get a result and that's what we're going to do by playing our style of football."
Toronto won the Canadian championship last year for the fifth time. As such, it thought it had secured entry to the CONCACAF Champions League. But due to a change in tournament format, it will have to win this year's Canadian championship or, if it doesn't, defeat the winner in a one-game playoff to join the CONCACAF club competition.