Bonus

Preview: Toronto FC vs Vancouver Whitecaps

Toronto FC hasn’t had much to look forward to since the beginning of the season, other than wanting this tumultuous year to come to an end. However, there is hope for the reds, who move past Sunday’s loss against New York City FC and turn their attention to the Canadian Championship Final on Wednesday against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

With the aggregate sitting at 2-2, it’s the reigning Canadian Champion’s TFC who hold the advantage especially with the two away goals and playing at home.

In the first leg, Vancouver took the lead in the 84th minute, surely thinking they would head into Toronto up by one. That was until Doneil Henry headed one into his own net in the 96th minute giving TFC the all-important tying goal and the away goal edge.

Henry, 25, who is now with Vancouver, started his MLS career with Toronto FC.

Toronto has had a season to forget after winning the MLS Cup last season and came so close to winning the CONCACAF Champions League at the start of the MLS season. There is no doubt the Champions League run played a factor in the bad start to the year for Toronto, whether it was fatigue or injuries.

But now in the second half of the season, fatigue and injuries are just excuses. The team still finds themselves struggling to get anything going and as of now will miss the playoffs.

As for the Whitecaps, they haven’t had the greatest of campaigns either but are in better shape than TFC. Vancouver sits seventh in the Western Conference just two points back of a playoff spot. The team should be expected to lure in some talent this offseason after selling 17-year-old Alphonso Davies to Bayern Munich for what could be a $22 million sale and an MLS record. Davies will go to Germany at the end of Vancouver’s season.

Unlike TFC, Vancouver is coming off a big win in their last match on Saturday night which saw them defeat the Portland Timbers; snapping their 15-match unbeaten streak.

The first leg of the Canadian Championship Final was the only time the two sides have met this season and after this matchup, they will meet once more in MLS action.

For Toronto to walk away as Canadian champions for the second straight season they need a strong 90-minute performance, which will include lots of defensive play. TFC can advance with a 0-0 or 1-1 draw and with Vancouver needing to score the all-important away goals, it should be an entertaining match.

Toronto will need Michael Bradley to have a strong performance like he had in the first leg. He will be busy with Vancouver needing offense. And with the Whitecaps needing goals, TFC needs goalkeeper, Alex Bono, to show up with his A-game. The 24-year-old has shown glimpses of brilliance but has had his fair share of poor performances.

As for Vancouver, they need to bring the energy and confidence from Saturday’s victory with them into Wednesday’s tilt. It will be a tight and tough match as usual between the two sides, but the Whitecaps will have to take chances offensively meaning they could be exposed on the back end at times. They will need to take risks but keeping it a close game and not falling behind is more important.

Kick-off is set for 7:30 ET at BMO Field in Toronto.

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