• Articles

    Manage articles

    Duane Rollins
    Talk about burying the lead. 
    Toronto FC fans got a surprise yesterday and not one that they would have been looking forward to. That Champions League spot that many were looking forward to is not just delayed until next February -- it's been taken away completely. The news was almost hidden in a release announcing the extension of the Canadian Championship to include the winner of the PLSQ and League1 Ontario. 
    So, to re-cap, the CSA got one thing right and one thing very wrong.
    Let's start with the wrong. Appreciating the fact that a lot of people in this country love it when Toronto gets screwed, there is no denying that they did, in fact, get screwed here. Yes, there was a bit of an issue to fix -- CONCACAF's change in format made it a long wait for the qualifying team -- but the CSA chose quite possibly the least sporting solution available to them. TFC won the Voyageurs Cup on the field and the CONCACAF spot that went with it should have stayed with them.  A year where the Cup did not have a CCL spot would not have been the end of the world. In fact, it may have given more opportunity to young Canadians to play in the competition as the teams would have very likely rotated (as an aside, the CSA also added a Canadian quota for starters this year -- each team will need to start three Canucks each game.
    The CSA did provide a slight advantage by allowing TFC to host the one game playoff. Obviously, if TFC wins the 2017 Voyageurs Cup they do not need to play itself for the birth.
    Unfair or not, it's done now and the Reds will need to get down to the business of repeating as champions if the CCL is to make a long awaited return to T.O. 
    For the D3 level teams the long wait to get a shot at the Canadian Championship is almost over. The specific format of the 2018 Cup has not been released yet (hopefully because they are waiting to add a few more teams in a, say, new league...), but whatever it is it will include at least two D3 teams. It won't include the Canadian PDL teams. The likely reason? The CSA wants those teams to play in Canadian leagues and this might be the incentive to get them to make that choice on their own.
    Guest

    By Guest, in 24th Minute,

    With five games left to play in the regular season (four at home), the Reds (13-8-8) are two points clear in the East, with a game in hand. On 47 points, TFC sits five adrift of FC Dallas in the race for the Supporter’s Shield. If they fail to become the first Canadian team to achieve the feat of topping the MLS pile East and West, the goal remains securing a home tie in the playoffs.
    Also in Toronto’s ideal future is a return for Sebastian Giovinco but it’s unlikely to be this weekend. The Italian striker, who hasn’t played in September was described by manager Greg Vanney on Thursday as “questionable.”
    Unquestionable is the form of Giovinco’s fellow DPs. Jozy Altidore’s pair of goals in the 3-3 draw with New York Red Bulls made it eight in eight games for the big American while his national team captain Michael Bradley scored his first of the season to start the comeback. Meanwhile, Vanney has a tougher call to make at the other end of the pitch. Stick with Alex Bono, who has performed admirably in Clint Irwin’s absence, for the run-in and you are surely giving him the nod in goal for the post-season. Will be harsh on someone either way.
    The Union (11-11-8) are just six points back of Toronto but are now winless in three games following the 2-1 defeat on the road in Portland last weekend. Chris Pontius will lead the offense after scoring his 11th goal of the season against the Timbers but teammate and striker C.J. Sapong is on a six-game scoring drought.
    The teams last played just over a month ago in Philadelphia, with goals from Giovinco, Altidore and Drew Moor securing a 3-1 win. The Reds defeated their Pennsylvanian rivals at BMO twice last season.
    Projected Line-ups
    Toronto FC: C.Irwin, S.Beitashour, E.Zavaleta, D.Moor, J.Morrow, M.Bradley, M.Delgado, J.Osorio, W.Johnson, J.Altidore, J.Hamilton
    Philadelphia: A.Blake, Fabinho, R.Marquez, J.Yaro, K.Rosenberry, A.Bedoya, B.Carroll, T.Barnetta, C.Pontius, F.Herbers, C.J. Sapong
    Referee: Ismail Elfath
    Broadcast: TSN2
    Guest

    By Guest, in 24th Minute,

    TFC (12-8-7) had gone seven games unbeaten before the calamity that befell BMO Field on August 27. Not only did the 1-0 result move the Montreal Impact to within six points behind their Canadian rivals with a game in hand, talisman Sebastian Giovinco went down with a quad injury. An adductor strain will keep him out until next week at the earliest.
    While Jay Chapman is also still sidelined with an MCL tear picked up in August, there is brighter news for Greg Vanney who may be able to reinstate Clint Irwin in goal. Irwin played 90 minutes for TFCII last weekend as he continued his comeback from two months out.
    The Fire (6-12-8) have enjoyed something of a mini resurgence of late, taking eight points from their last five games to leave them sitting just above the Columbus Crew at the root of the table. Most recently, they pasted fourth placed Philadelphia Union 3-0, with forward Michael de Leeuw leading the offence breakout. Less comforting to Chicago coach Veljko Paunovic, however, is the six goals his side shipped to DC United the week before. Surprisingly there are six teams with worse defensive records in the league.
    Saturday’s game is the second of three games between the sides this season. Back in July, Justin Morrow scored the only goal of the game in Toronto to give his side the three points. Last season, TFC were on the wrong end of a 3-2 score line in Chicago.
    The Reds have only one more road game once they return from Chicago for a four-game home stand. They will welcome the Fire to BMO for the final regular season game.
    Projected Line-ups
    Chicago: S.Johnson, J.Meira, J.Kappelhof, J.Campbell, B.Vincent, R.Cocis M.Polster, J.Goossens, L.Solignac, A.Alvarez, M.de Leeuw
    Toronto FC: C.Irwin, S.Beitashour, E.Zavaleta, D.Moor, J.Morrow, M.Bradley, M.Delgado, J.Osorio, T.Endoh, J.Altidore, T.Ricketts
    Referee: Marcos Deoliveira
    Broadcast: SN360
    Duane Rollins
    And the journey never really ends. If Canada loses today – and they are far more likely to lose than they are going to win – then all that means is that we have to listen to drive-by reports about how horrible we are and how everything is hopeless and we should probably just fold the men’s programs.
    So, like a Tuesday. Whatever. The reality is most of us will just google when men’s u-20 qualifying starts and get back to arguing with each other on the Voyageurs board.
    But, if we win…
    Man.
    One day it will happen (maybe) and it will be a hell of a night. In the meantime we’ll just keep on keepin’ on with the understanding that we’ve already seen the bottom and still came back to watch Kyle Bekker play Denmark in Arizona.
    Enjoy the game and keep some aspirin on the bedside table.
    U-20 qualifying starts February 17, by the way.
    Guest

    By Guest, in 24th Minute,

    Jozy Altidore will look to continue his goal-scoring form since returning from injury. The big American striker has scored three times in the last four games. While his offensive partner Sebastian Giovinco may lead the MLS Golden Boot race after his own hot-streak at home in Toronto, the little Italian hasn’t scored on the road since April 23 in Montreal.
    Giovinco has a right to feel confident ahead of Saturday’s matchup – he helped Toronto to victory in all three of last year’s meetings between the teams, including a 1-0 win in Philadelphia, scoring in each game of the series.
    Fullback Justin Morrow trained this week following the hip injury he suffered against Houston but his right-sided counterpart Mark Bloom, who went down with an ankle sprain in the same game, has not recovered in time. However, defenders Eriq Zavaleta and Steven Beitashour are available for selection. Clint Irwin remains at least a week away from a return in goal.
    After picking up just five points in the previous seven matches, the Union (9-8-7) burst out with a 4-0 victory in New England last weekend. Despite their recent slide, attacking-midfielder Chris Pontius now has four goals in five games. U.S. international Alejandro Bedoya made his MLS debut against New England after his switch from French side Nantes. Fellow American Brian Carroll remains sidelined with a heel injury.
    This week, TFC acquired Panamanian international midfielder Armando Cooper on loan from Club Deportivo Árabe Unido. Cooper, capped 74 times by his country, is waiting on a work permit and won’t feature this weekend. With Will Johnson’s return from injury imminent, the 28-year-old will provide additional options in midfield as Greg Vanney prepares the final flourishes to a playoff push.
    Projected Line-ups
    Toronto FC: A.Bono, S.Beitashour, E.Zavaleta, D.Moor, J.Morrow, M.Bradley, M.Delgado, J.Osorio, T.Endoh, J.Altidore, S.Giovinco
    Philadelphia: A.Blake, Fabinho, R.Marquez, K.Tribbet, K.Rosenberry, A.Bedoya, W.Creavalle, T.Barnetta, C.Pontius, Ilsinho, C.J. Sapong
    Referee: Mark Geiger
    Broadcast: SN360
    Guest

    By Guest, in 24th Minute,

    This is unfamiliar territory for TFC (10-7-6) and their long-suffering fans, who have driven their team to four straight wins at BMO Field. The Reds scored 12 goals and conceded just two during the momentous period.
    For the players, Houston and the accompanying heat will be a stern test of their Supporters Shield credentials. The game at Compass Stadium (Kick-off 9:00 p.m. ET) begins a three-game road spin for the Reds whose away record reads 3-6-3.
    “Of course it will be different on the road,” says Sebastian Giovinco. “But we have to have the same mentality.”
    Now leading the MLS Golden Boot standings, Giovinco has seven goals in his last four games while his striking partner Jozy Altidore has two in three. Altidore score against Houston in their only meeting last season, when TFC slipped to a 2-1 home loss.
    This weekend’s road game will also be a barometer of just how far rookie goalkeeper Alex Bono has come since his shaky debut back in June, when he came on for the injured Clint Irwin in Orlando and assisted in Toronto dropping a 3-2 result.
    Club-captain Michael Bradley, on return from injury, was imperious against New England last weekend. Greg Vanney will be pleased the return of the Yankee general didn’t disrupt the midfield dynamism fuelled by youth and in particular Marky Delgado, who anchored the diamond in the absence of Bradley and Benoit Cheyrou. The Frenchman is close to a return himself from a short layoff with a hamstring problem.
    Meanwhile the Dynamo (4-10-8) sit last place in the West, winless in five games after a 1-0 defeat in Montreal. Wade Barrett’s side have struggled for goals during the fallow period, finding the net only once.
    American Will Bruin has lead the line for the Orangemen since Jamaican striker Giles Barnes was traded to Vancouver last month. Despite the current trouble of the two-time MLS Cup winners, Toronto haven’t won in Houston since 2010. By Saturday’s end we’ll may know if this incarnation of TFC is for real.
    Projected Line-ups
    Toronto FC: A.Bono, S.Beitashour, J.Williams, D.Moor, J.Morrow, M.Bradley, J.Chapman, J.Osorio, T.Endoh, T.Ricketts, S.Giovinco
    Houston Dynamo: J.Willis, A.Mansally, J.Anibaba, D.Horst, S.Williams, C.Warner, B.Garcia, C.Maidana, R.Clark, A.Wenger, W.Bruin
    Referee: Hilario Grajeda
    Broadcast: TSN2
    Guest

    By Guest, in 24th Minute,

    Saturday’s matchup with the Revs at BMO Field (Kick-off 7:30 p.m. ET) is the last of the four-game home stand that has uncovered a new and pulsing confidence on the pitch and in the stands.
    Rookie goalkeeper Alex Bono has settled any debate about whether he deserves to wear the gloves in Clint Irwin’s absence. Marky Delgado has rendered the absence of Benoit Cheyrou and Michael Bradley in the midfield a non-issue and TFC’s offensive future looks bright with youngsters Tsubasa Endoh and Jay Chapman.
    On Wednesday night against Real Salt Lake, Canadian Tosaint Ricketts got off the mark for his new club, while Jozy Altidore bagged the first of his season last weekend as TFC regained the Trillium Cup versus the Columbus Crew.
    Toronto (9-7-6) will look to solidify their claim to the best defense in the East (23 goals conceded) against Kei Kamara, who matched Giovinco’s 22-goal haul last season. Only David Villa has more than the Italian this year. Kamara has nine in total, but only four in 11 since transferring from Columbus Crew in May. In shutting out RSL, the Reds secured a club record breaking ninth clean sheet of the season.
    New England (6-8-6) have steadied the ship after three consecutive defeats at the start of July, claiming seven points from their last four games. But they’ll seek to bounce back from a 3-1 defeat in Orlando last weekend with the services of striker and fan favourite Charlie Davies, who was traded to the Philadelphia Union before the MLS transfer deadline on Wednesday.
    Jay Heaps’s side struggled against the Orlando press, something that TFC have done with much success in recent games. In the 1-0 win against Real Salt Lake, the Reds alternated between periods of sustained possession and others of compact defence. With an average age of 22, the midfield seems equipped for such physically taxing responsibility.
    The last time these sides met at BMO Field, the Revs came out 3-1 winners in September last year, as TFC were stumbling into the playoffs. Sebastian Giovinco secured a 1-1 draw in New England back in April.
    Projected Line-ups
    Toronto: A.Bono, S.Beitashour, E.Zavaleta, D.Moor, J.Morrow, M.Delgado, J.Chapman, J.Osorio, T.Endoh, J.Altidore, S.Giovinco
    New England Revolution: B.Shuttleworth, C.Tierney, J.Goncalves, A.Farrell, L.Woodberry, S.Caldwell, J.Watson, K.Rowe, L.Nguyen, T.Bunbury, K.Kamara
    Referee: Ted Unkel
    Broadcast: SN360
    Guest

    By Guest, in 24th Minute,

    After netting a hat-trick featuring two direct free kicks bookended by a six-yard box strike, the Italian jetted off to join the MLS All-Stars team in San Jose. The league’s best will play storied English club Arsenal Thursday night. Giovinco may have to settle for place on the bench depending on how many minutes he’s deployed against the Gunners.
    Sunday’s game at BMO is the third and final installment of the Trillium Cup this season. The rivals faced off most recently just two weeks ago in Columbus, Jordan Hamilton securing a 1-1 draw for the Reds. Back in May, the sides played out a 0-0 in Toronto and a repeat would see the Cup return to Canada on away goals.
    In the second of a four-game home stretch, TFC (7-7-6) will look to build on what was perhaps the team’s strongest performance of the season against D.C. That that result came on the heels of the crushing defeat to nine-man San Jose the week previous will give Greg Vanney hope that with the return of Jozy Altidore, the addition of Tosaint Ricketts and other stars (M.Bradley, W.Johnson) to come back, this group of Reds can finally put a run of MLS form together.
    Altidore and Ricketts each played only 20 minutes against D.C. but while the new Canadian recruit missed a one-on-one with the goalkeeper, the presence of both gave the side new offensive dimensions. American striker Altidore will most likely start against Columbus, with Ricketts maybe in behind. It is unlikely that Vanney would play with both Altidore and the man who has subbed for him for the past two months, Jordan Hamilton.
    Columbus (3-7-10) are winless in eight games and have slid to second from bottom in the division. However, while Gregg Berhalter’s side have conceded 14 goals in the fallow period, they remain a threat offensively. Norwegian striker Ola Kamara scored his 10th goal in 14 games against Orlando last weekend, a game that also saw the return of midfield maestro Federico Higuain.
    TFC have wrestled back the best defensive in the East (23 conceded), with more than a little thanks to Eriq Zavaleta, who has become a mainstay at centre back. The U.S. native, who will celebrate his 24th birthday next week, has been subject of eligibility interest from the El Salvador national team as revealed by the Toronto Sun’s Kurt Larson.
    Projected Line-ups
    Toronto: A.Bono, E.Zavaleta, J.Williams, D.Moor, J.Morrow, B.Cheyrou, M.Delgado, T.Ricketts, J.Chapman, T.Endoh, J.Altidore
    Columbus Crew: S.Clark, H.Afful, M.Parkhurst, T.Wahl, C.Ashe, W.Trapp, T.Tchani, J.Meram, F.Higuain, Cedrick, O.Kamara
    Referee: Allen Chapman
    Broadcast: SN360
    Guest

    By Guest, in 24th Minute,

    Surprisingly, TFC (6-7-6) still sit fifth in the Eastern standings but are nine points adrift of high flying New York City FC. Saturday’s matchup is the first of a four-game home stretch for the Reds.
    It would appear that, despite his three goals in five games, left-back Justin Morrow is not considered the solution to Sebastian Giovinco’s scoring drought. The Italian has now gone eight games without finding the net. Joining the ranks of would-be saviours is Tosaint Ricketts.
    The much rumoured transfer of the Canadian International from Boluspor Kulübü of Turkey’s TFF First League was finally confirmed Wednesday and the 28-year-old will go straight into the squad this weekend. Ricketts, who was born in Edmonton, spent time playing in Finland, Romania, Norway and Israel before landing in Turkey. He has 50 caps for the Canadian national team, scoring 12 goals.
    Despite the new signing, Vanney gave the strongest indication yet this week that, barring any hicuups, Jozy Altidore will finally make his long awaited return from injury. The American striker hasn’t played since May 14 but if training goes as planned this week he could be considered for Saturday after making the bench in San Jose.
    Tied for seventh place, D.C. (5-7-7) have just one win in their last six. They matched TFC’s recent result (1-1) in Columbus last weekend but have struggled for goals (18). Only the Chicago Fire (17) have scored less in MLS.
    In an attempt to address their offensive woes, United signed forward Patrick Mullins from NYCFC on Wednesday. 24-year-old Mullins made his full debut on May 3, 2014, scoring his first MLS goal against, you guessed it, Toronto FC. Heading out the D.C. door this week is Fabian Espindola, the veteran striker was traded to the Vancouver Whitecaps.
    This fixture ended in a 0-0 draw at BMO last season. Earlier this year, Sebastian Giovinco notched the only goal to give Toronto victory on the road in D.C. It was a record breaking moment, the goal coming after just 58 seconds, the fastest in TFC history.
    Projected Line-ups
    Toronto: A.Bono, E.Zavaleta, J.Williams, D.Moor, J.Morrow, B.Cheyrou, M.Delgado, T.Ricketts, M.Babouli, S.Giovinco, J.Altidore
    D.C. United: B.Hamid, S.Franklin, S.Birnbaum, B. Boswell, T.Kemp, L.Sam, M.Sarvas, N. DeLeon, J.Jeffrey, L.Acosta, A.Saborio
    Referee: Armando Villarreal
    Broadcast: SN360
    Guest
    The game at Avaya Stadium pits the Reds against a team on the slide. The Quakes (5-6-7) haven’t won in seven games and are sitting well outside the playoff spots in a highly competitive Western Conference. In comparison, whilst only two points better off with the same number of games played, TFC (6-6-6) have given improved performances in recent weeks and showed resilience to tie the Crew despite running a short bench.
    The big news out of Toronto this week was the departure of Damien Perquis, whose contract was terminated with mutual consent. The Frenchman was drawing a healthy salary, and with Vanney impressed with fellow centre back Eriq Zavaleta this season it was time to move on. The team once again played with five at the back in Columbus, Mark Bloom replacing Steven Beitashour. The Iranian is expected to come back in for the clash with the Quakes, for whom he use to wear the uniform.
    San Jose suffered a first home loss of the season to high-flying Dallas last weekend. Whilst they matched their Texan opponents in most departments, Dominic Kinnear’s side will be desperate for three points when they face Toronto. Earthquakes hitman Chris Wondolowski will hope to break his six-game scoring drought.
    Toronto have won the last two encounters between the sides, including a 3-1 victory at BMO Field last May. However, San Jose haven't lost to a Canadian team at home in 11 games. The last team to inflict defeat? It was the Reds in May, 2010.
    Projected Line-ups
    Toronto: A.Bono, E.Zavaleta, J.Williams, D.Moor, J.Morrow, B.Cheyrou, M.Delgado, J.Osorio, M.Babouli, S.Giovinco, J.Hamilton
    San Jose: D.Bingham, C.Cato, M.Wynne, V.Bernárdez, A.Quintero, A.Godoy, S.Dawkins, S.Salinas, C.Wondolowski, Q.Amarikwa
    Referee: Alejandro Mariscal
    Broadcast: SN360
    Guest
    When the Reds (6-6-5) last faced Columbus (3-7-7), on May 21, they were in the middle of a home stretch that saw them pick up just five points from their opening five games at BMO Field. However, following a nervy 1-0 win at home to basement club Chicago Fire last week, TFC sit fifth in the Eastern Conference, while the Crew are looking a long way up, only two points above the struggling Fire.
    Toronto have been misfiring up front to a certain degree, with Sebastian Giovinco scoreless in seven games, so Greg Vanney will hope Altidore can stay fit for the hectic run of games coming up.
    Defender Josh Williams is back to full fitness and will return to Ohio, where he spent four years with his old crew.
    It has been a tale of mixed fortunes for Columbus in recent games. In the 3-1 away defeat to New England last weekend, Ola Kamara extended his scoring streak to three. The Norwegian front man now has eight goals in the last six MLS games. However, Head coach Gregg Berhalter has seen his side lose twice in a row and they are winless in five.
    Missing from the home side’s starting lineup from the last time the teams faced off will be midfield maestro Federico Higuain, who is recovering from hernia surgery and centre back Gaston Sauro, who is spending a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a torn PCL
    The game between the sides earlier this season ended in a 0-0 stalemate but the Crew defeated the Reds twice last season, home and away. The last installment of the rivalry at MAPFRE Stadium was a 3-3 goal fest, this time last year.
    Projected Line-ups
    Toronto: A.Bono, E.Zavaleta, J.Williams, D.Moor, J.Morrow, B.Cheyrou, M.Delgado, J.Osorio, M.Babouli, S.Giovinco, J.Hamilton
    Columbus Crew: S.Clark, H.Afful, M.Parkhurst, C.Barson, W.Francis, W.Trapp, T.Tchani, M.Saeid, J.Meram, E.Finlay, O.Kamara
    Referee: Robert Sibiga
    Broadcast: TSN2
    Guest
    Meanwhile, the Fire (3-7-5) arrive at BMO Field as healthy as they have been all season. Midfielders Matt Polster, Collin Fernandez and Arturo Alvarez have all received a clean bill of health for Chicago, who secured just their third win of the season against San Jose last week.
    Dutchman John Gossens opened his scoring account in this seventh game in MLS since moving from Romanian soccer in the off-season to earn the three points.
    Toronto’s defence will have to pay careful attention to young right back Rodrigo Ramos, whose offensive play has proved to be one of the Fire’s main threats this year.
    Missing goalkeeper senior players Clint Irwin, captain Michael Bradley, Will Johnson and Altidore, the Reds’ form has mirrored that of 2015 MVP Sebastian Giovinco, who hasn’t scored in six games and managed only one assist in the same period.
    Stand-in captain Benoit Cheyrou only appeared from the bench against the Sounders and may be restored to the starting line-up Saturday.
    Rarely tested against Seattle, 22-year-old Alex Bono will continue to deputize in goal for the injured Irwin. On home debut, Bono could do nothing to stop Jordan’s Morris’ curling equalizer. The secondary transfer window opened on Monday and until it closes on August 3, the rookie will hope to prove himself.
    Toronto and Chicago played home and away last season, both fixtures finishing 3-2 in favour of the home side.
    Projected Line-ups
    Toronto: A.Bono, N.Hagglund, E.Zavaleta, D.Moor, J.Morrow, B.Cheyrou, M.Delgado, J.Osorio, M.Babouli, S.Giovinco, J.Hamilton
    Chicago: S.Johnson, R.Ramos, J.Kappelhof, J.Campbell, B.Vincent, M.Stephens, M.Polster, J.Goossens, A.Valerez, K. Igboananike, D.Accam
    Referee: Silviu Petrescu
    Broadcast: TSN4
    Guest

    By Guest, in 24th Minute,

    The win came at a cost though. In scoring the heroic stoppage-time goal that secured the silverwear against the Whitecaps, Will Johnson hyperextended his leg and is doubtful for Saturday’s game. (Kick-off 7:30 p.m. ET).
    TFC (5-6-4) will continue to rely on the leadership of veteran Benoit Cheyrou, who received the George Gross Memorial Trophy as the MVP of the 2016 Canadian Championship.
    After a solid performance on full debut, 22-year-old Alex Bono will deputize in goal in place of the injured Irwin, sidelined for six weeks due to a quadriceps strain.
    Bradley is still recovering from a knee injury picked up on U.S. national team duty at the Copa America. Coach Greg Vanney says it’s not serious.
    The Sounders (5-9-1) are on a torrid run of form in MLS play, losing five of their last six games, leaving them rooted second from bottom in the Western Conference.
    However, they come into Saturday’s game on the back of qualification for the US Open Cup quarterfinals. Despite taking a pummeling from Real Salt Lake in regulation and extra time, a second-string side won the tie after a penalty shootout.
    Clint Dempsey has returned from the Copa America to add some power back to the offence but Sounders coach Sigi Schmid has suggested fatigue may mean the game in Toronto might come too soon.
    TFC haven’t beaten Seattle at BMO Field since 2010 and the Sounders have won on their last two visits to Toronto. They also won the only game between the teams last season, a 2-1 victory on the West Coast.
    Projected Line-ups
    Toronto: A.Bono, S.Beitashour, E.Zavaleta, D.Moor, J.Morrow B.Cheyrou, M.Delgado, J.Osorio, T.Endoh, S.Giovinco, M.Babouli
    Seattle: T.Miller, D.Remick, C.Marshall, B.Evans, T.Mears, A.Ivanschitz, E.Friberg, O.Alonso, J.Jones, J.Morris, A.Kovar
    Referee: Kevin Stott
    Broadcast: TSN2
    James Grossi
    Reason enough for some mixed emotions heading into Wednesday night's Canadian Championship decider as the two clubs meet in the second leg of the final to determine Canadian representation in the CONCACAF Champions League with the tie delicately poised – TFC leads 1-0 heading into BC Place.
    The Welshman joined the club prior to the inaugural season after a long career in England, spent mostly between the Premier and Football Leagues, as they prepared to embark on their debut campaign.
    “I knew it was a growing league, a development league, and I knew also they were trying to attract bigger players,” said Robinson from the KIA Training Ground last Thursday.
    “For me, it was a decision made to get on the coaching ladder. I saw opportunities for young managers and I was still at the right age of 29. It was a lifestyle decision for me, it wasn't financial. And I took the opportunity to join Toronto because they were a new franchise and Mo Johnson invited me in.”
    Robinson made some 84 appearances in all competitions for TFC, including eight Voyageurs Cup matches and two in the Champions League – he scored three goals over that period and was twice named Player of the Year (jointly with Brennan in 2007 and solo in 2008).
    His 74 MLS appearances account for 82.2% (repeating, of course) of the club's first 90 matches, encompassing those first three seasons. He was one of the brightest parts of an often dark origin.
    But with the start of the 2010 season, came a trade to New York, where he finished his career before taking up a coaching position in Vancouver; first as an assistant in 2012 and taking the full reigns ahead of the 2014 season.
    Since then, he has seen MLS grow immeasurably, little-by-little.
    “[The progression] has been phenomenal. It really has,” said Robinson. “It makes me laugh sometimes because it's growing every year, getting better every year. Players are getting better, the cap is rising, the coaches are getting better, the support is increasing... but,” he continued, “everyone wants to run before they can walk.”
    “Major League Soccer are doing a good job in letting it grow slowly, continuing the process rather than going all in. [Risking that] then there would be a massive drop off, or failure in some departments, and you'll have to reset again. All credit to MLS in the way they're growing, individual clubs, but also the league, at a steady pace.”
    Speaking from the glorious training grounds at Downsview Park, still in Toronto after Tuesday night's first leg ahead of a match in Philadelphia on the weekend – in his days, TFC wandered the city in search of parks or trained on the previous, artificial surface at BMO Field – Robinson shared his view on the progress he has seen in his teammates-turned-opponents.
    “In the two-and a half, three years I was here, there was a turnover of about 80-odd players – you get to know someone and you're saying goodbye to them the very next day,” recalled Robinson. “And I was one of them included when I left to go to the New York Red Bulls.”
    “The club is a very good club, they've got great ownership in MLSE. It's good people and they've got a little bit of stability now, and any club needs a bit of stability. Everyone wants to be successful in the short term, and happen overnight, but, unfortunately, that isn't football; it doesn't happen overnight.”
    “I'm glad for them they've managed to stabilize themselves and you see the growth in Toronto, they're bringing in the likes of Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, and Sebastian Giovinco. That's all credit to them,” he concluded.
    Whilst it may have been an unsatisfactory end to his time in Toronto, Wednesday, a chance to hoist a trophy over his former club, will still be awkward.
    “It is [weird going up against a former club],” said Robinson, adding, “but I've done it enough in England. I was fortunate enough to play for seven, eight different teams, and every week I seemed to be going up against my old team.”
    “I've got a lot of respect for the club, I've got a lot of friends still here. I'll always have that special feeling with supporters. Unfortunately, some of them won't like me now, because I'm manager of Vancouver – it is what it is. But nothing will change my thoughts on the club.”
    Robinson famously did not celebrate, appearing almost sheepish when he scored the coup-de-grace, a stunning header, in a 4-1 dismantling of TFC when he returned with the Red Bulls in 2010, but will he be so kind should Vancouver overturn the deficit on Wednesday?
    “Toronto are 1-0 ahead in the tie, so it's going to be difficult for us. I didn't celebrate, if you look at players who go back to their old clubs, 99% of them celebrate because they feel the way they left wasn't how they wanted – the way I left wasn't how I wanted – but the admiration for the club that I had was a mark of respect for them because I was here for two-and-a-half years, and it was good times.”
    “Life's too short to be bitter, so I wasn't and I didn't celebrate, and I'm glad I didn't.”
    Regardless of who wins on Wednesday, Vancouver or Toronto, with Robinson and his split history involved, it will be yet another moment to add to the growing folklore of Canadian soccer.