It’s a victory lap. A chance to watch 90 minutes of soccer with no stress.
There’s nothing on the line.
Toronto FC coach Preki can sit back and enjoy Wednesday’s Nutrilite Canadian Championship curtain-closer with the Vancouver Whitecaps. With the national title already in the bag, he can rest his regular starters. Seven players from the TFC Academy squad have been called up for the game.
“It might be a nice opportunity to show what they’ve got,” said Preki at a press conference Tuesday at BMO Field. While the Voyageurs Cup — which TFC has earned but won’t receive until tomorrow — sat on a table next to him, Preki didn’t pose with it.
Preki didn’t make any promises about the seven call-ups; whether he’d start all seven, use some as subs or just have some on the bench as insurance. But he said the game allows the Reds to have a chance to see how far they have come along as an organization, if the teenagers at the Academy are indeed ready to graduate from the Canadian Soccer League into prime time.
It’s a game that will show just how healthy the scouting and youth arms of the franchise are.
“It’s a good moment, if the moment comes, to see where we are,” Preki said. “Hopefully, we present the club in the right way.”
As Canadian champs, TFC has earned a home-and-away qualifying series to earn entry into the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League. They will face Motagua, the Honduran team that’s home to former Red Amado Guevara.
That means TFC will have to travel to Honduras in August, a country where former president Manuel Zelaya was overthrown a year ago.
It’s not a pleasant itinerary.
“I am not so sure we’re looking forward to the trip, but we are looking forward to the game,” Preki said.
The first leg of that series with Motagua is scheduled for BMO Field in the the July 27-29 window.
So, just like last season, Toronto FC players who would be selected as MLS all-stars likely can’t participate in the July 28 game that pits MLS’ best against Manchester United in Houston.