TORONTO - Teams don’t get a lot of big-game second chances, but nature gave Toronto FC just that back in May.
Trailing 1-0 at home to the Vancouver Whitecaps in the May 25 match that was to decide the Nutrilite Canadian Championship, a severe lightning storm forced the game to be abandoned.
That means the teams will do it all again on Saturday afternoon at BMO Field, with Vancouver aiming for its first Voyageurs Cup; Toronto, a third straight national title.
The teams tied 1-1 in the first leg of the final in Vancouver, meaning TFC would advance to the CONCACAF Champions League preliminary round with a win or a 0-0 draw.
TFC had not allowed a goal in its previous six Nutrilite games and might get captain and leading scorer Maicon Santos back for Saturday’s clincher.
Reds head coach Aron Winter said on Friday that midfielders Julian de Guzman, Tony Tchani and Jacob Peterson, as well as striker Alan Gordon could join Santos in a reinforced lineup.
De Guzman made it back to the bench for Wednesday’s game, but was not utilized by Winter.
Defenders Nana Attakora and Dicoy Williams remain sidelined.
Vancouver, in last place in Major League Soccer, rested a number of its key players for all or half of Wednesday’s league match in order to bolster its chances in this game.
Reds defender Dan Gargan said he was a little surprised to see Vancouver’s lineup on Wednesday.
“I think they obviously were maybe looking at Saturday’s game as a bit more important for them, but it doesn’t really matter to us. We need to play hard and do the right things against whoever is lining up against us. You know if they come with a different lineup on Saturday, then so be it,” Gargan said.
“They’re going to want to win as badly as we do. They’re going to come with just as much energy and hopefully we can match that and do the little things. We know how important it is.”
Winter thought Vancouver’s loss might actually have a negative effect.
“For me, it’s always important, every game (to play the best lineup), if you lose like they have done this means that in the coming days when they are together this unmotivates the players for the next game. I don't worry about it because its not my problem, it doesn't matter to me if they play the whole team with their best players or the team they played with (Wednesday).”
Whitecaps midfielder Terry Dunfield didn’t seem to be buying that argument.
“I think we will still go into this game confidently. We’ve got some talented players and we just need to all come together,” Dunfield said.
“What a great opportunity to go out and win a trophy on Toronto’s turf. That would be huge for us and the club.
“It’s been a goal of ours since the start of the season. Saturday is an opportunity to win a medal and a trophy so that is something that we want to do.”
But it won’t be easy since the revitalized Reds finally are feeling good about themselves thanks to a win, progress in the infirmary and the lifting of spirits provided by the signing of two designated players this week.
TFC defender Danleigh Borman said his club certainly won’t come in overconfident, despite all those positives.
“We still have to put work in and play the same way we did (Wednesday) because we can’t get too confident,” Borman said.
“We’ve only won three (league) games this season.”
Vancouver hasn’t been any better, but nevertheless, one of these clubs will be crowned Canada’s best.