Canadian pride and a sense of injustice will be fuelling Toronto FC as it opens defence of its Canadian championship on the road Tuesday against the USL’s Ottawa Fury FC.
Greg Vanney’s MLS-leading team has a burr under its saddle after thinking it had secured qualification for the CONCACAF Champions League when it won the Voyageurs Cup for a fifth time last year.
A change in format for the CONCACAF club championship led to a scheduling logjam, however. Now Toronto has to win the Canadian championship again to secure qualification. Failing that it will have to beat whoever does win the domestic title to join the Champions League.
“The rules have changed on us …. We’ve got to go back and we’ve got to do it again,” Vanney said in a conference call Monday. “We’d like to do it through this path because it keeps the trophy in Toronto and it will solidify that [CONCACAF Championship league] position.
“For us the playoff game is solely just an ‘oops’ moment if for some reason we don’t get through this and take care of our business in this tournament.”
The semifinal second leg is slated for May 31 in Toronto. Toronto hosts Columbus on Friday and Ottawa entertains the Richmond Kickers on Saturday in between.
Vancouver hosts Montreal on Tuesday in the opening leg of the other Canadian semifinal.
Toronto is without injured striker Sebastian Giovinco and defender Nick Hagglund.
A chance for local talent
Vanney will likely rest other regulars while turning to the Canadians on his roster. As Toronto’s former academy head, he takes satisfaction in seeing the club’s homegrown talent flourish.
Local talent at his disposal includes Jay Chapman, Raheem Edwards, Jordan Hamilton, Ashtone Morgan and Sergio Camargo, plus anyone he wants to summon from TFC 2. Midfielder Jonathan Osorio awaits a final call Tuesday morning on whether he has medical clearance to play.
“We want to give guys an opportunity and we’ve got a team that is deep and a lot of guys have earned…