Whitecaps FC-Toronto FC Preview
Toronto FC head coach Chris Armas intends to go back to the basics against Vancouver Whitecaps after suffering a surprise opening game defeat to CF Montreal.
Last season's second-placed finishers in the overall standings kicked off their 2021 campaign with a sloppy 4-2 loss at DRV PNK Stadium last weekend.
Toronto endured a disrupted build-up to the campaign due to player injuries and coronavirus restrictions, forcing them to play home matches in Orlando. Former New York Red Bulls boss Armas, who took over from Greg Vanney in January, is hoping a week on the training ground will help his side.
"We quickly got back to work after that loss, but there was no real overarching messages to the players," he said. "We understand what's ahead with lots of games coming up when everyone will be relied upon.
"A lot of what we have done in training this week is about getting back to the basics and working on little things, even bits we did well in the last game. It's about creating some clarity for the games."
Armas added that his club is getting healthier as well.
"We're getting stronger by the day. Options are what the coach wants - we're getting to a good place."
While Toronto have had a week to stew on a disappointing result, the Whitecaps are looking to build on an impressive 1-0 win against Portland in their first game.
Vancouver head coach Marc Dos Santos is not focusing so much on Toronto's last result, however, but rather their 3-2 aggregate win over Club Leon in the CONCACAF Champions League last 16.
"I watched Toronto against Montreal, but I also watched them against Leon - a team many have raved about," Dos Santos said. "We live in a sport that people forget really fast - you're good today, bad tomorrow. It's a roller coaster. I don't focus on Toronto's last game, I focus more on the Leon game.
"What we're focused on is both their strengths and weaknesses, and also our own. The game against Montreal may repeat itself, but the reality is that every game is different."
Toronto FC - Marky Delgado
The 'home' side are still without a number of key personnel, so there is pressure on those available to Armas - such as Delgado - to step up in the coming weeks.
United States international Delgado has never previously scored more than three goals in a single season, but this may be the year that changes after netting against Montreal.
Vancouver Whitecaps - Lucas Cavallini
Cavallini scored a hat-trick for Canada in their 11-0 win over Cayman Islands last month and carried his positive form into the MLS season with the winner against the Timbers.
The 28-year-old's last two league goals have been headers, with no other Whitecaps player managing to score via that part of their body since the start of last season.
- Toronto won two of the three meetings between the sides last season (L1), all played within a three-week period from late August to early September.
- The Whitecaps have managed only one clean sheet in 13 all-time meetings with Toronto, coming in a 1-0 away win in 2013.
- Toronto lost their opening match for just the second time in eight seasons (also 2-0 v Columbus Crew in 2018). That 2018 season is the only time the Reds have lost their first two matches of a season since 2012.
- Vancouver won its season opener against Portland in its temporary home in Utah after closing last season out with a win over Los Angeles Galaxy. The Whitecaps have not won three straight games since August-September 2017.
- Alejandro Pozuelo has been directly involved in each of Toronto's last four goals against Vancouver - one goal and three assists - but he has been ruled out of this match.
Updated April 23, 2021