We are days away from the Toronto FC home opener – dubbed ‘dome opener’ by some – under the retractable roof at the Rogers Centre.
Reds take on Sporting Kansas City at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 9 and we are giving away four tickets to the match via Twitter.
To enter, simply tweet at @torontofc the following:
I want to see #TFClive on March 9 at Rogers Centre! Please enter me to win 4 tickets to see @TorontoFC v Sporting KC this Saturday.
That’s all you need to do, copy, paste and tweet at us. However, to please our lawyers once more, the real rules of the contest are available here: http://ow.ly/ikFWB
Good luck everyone.
When Toronto kicks off the 2013 season in Vancouver at 6:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Ryan Nelsen's debut as head coach won't be the only new item on the agenda.
On Twitter, where I host the #TFClive chat on @torontofc, a pair of tickets to the March 9 match at the Rogers Centre can be won for the Tweet of the Match.
The rules are simple, make me laugh while supporting Toronto using #TFClive and you could win. Then there are actual legal rules that make lawyers happy: http://ow.ly/icwhP
Toronto FC players, coaches & staff arrived in Vancouver on Thursday night ahead of Saturday's 2013 MLS season opener against Whitecaps FC (TSN at 6:30 p.m. ET).
Reds will train at BC Place on Friday afternoon and that session will shed some light into which players Toronto will have available for First Kick on Saturday.
There was certainly a lot of excitement on Twitter Thursday when Wales international Robert Earnshaw announced he has signed with TFC. Club president and general manager Kevin Payne mentioned earlier in the week that Toronto was looking at the former Cardiff City striker. However, the final paperwork is yet to be complete and Earnshaw's availability remains uncertain as of Friday morning.
Below: Assistant coach & former TFC captain Jim Brennan greeted by a fan at the airport in Vancouver.
In a second consecutive Toronto FC match featuring mostly trialists and players needing minutes, the Reds again played to a draw, though this time showing great resiliency in clawing back level from a two-goal deficit to finish 3-3 against Sporting Kansas City.
On Sunday, Toronto forfeited a two-goal lead against Rollins College in a shortened match at Winter Park, Florida with a similar lineup. On Wednesday in Orlando, it was the Reds playing catch-up and succeeding.
The stand-out player of the day was Supplemental Draft pick Ashton Bennett (video below). He worked with Andrew Wiedeman to set up Toronto's opening goal by Jonathan Osorio in the first half after Kansas City had taken an early lead.
The match seemed to get away from the Reds on either side of halftime, with successive goals giving KC a 3-1 jump, though Bennett answered back with a brace at the 71st and 73rd minutes.
Toronto has one more game to play in Orlando versus Kansas City. That will take place at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, February 23 in the closing match of the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic for both clubs.
Following a rest day Toronto FC was back on the training pitch on Tuesday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The latest squad list remains the same with the Reds prepared to test some of the players in a scrimmage against Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday.
In the event that TFC can't get enough of Peter Vermes' team (Toronto will open its slate of MLS regular season home matches against Kansas City at the Rogers Centre on March 9), the opponent in the finale of the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic on Saturday, February 23 has been changed from D.C. to KC. That match will take place at 3 p.m. ET. MLSsoccer.com will not be streaming this contest on Saturday and currently there are no viewing options in Canada. In the U.S., it will be shown on ESPN3.
Lineups and important details from Wednesday's scrimmage will be posted on the Toronto FC Twitter account @torontofc shortly after 11 a.m. ET.
Toronto FC played to a 2-2 draw in a short friendly against Rollins College at Winter Park, Florida on Sunday, roughly 24-hours after playing in the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic in Orlando.
The idea of the match was twofold, the coaches wanted to get some more minutes for signed first team players Danny Califf, Kyle Bekker, Reggie Lambe, Andrew Wiedeman and Justin Braun, all played less than a half on Saturday. It was also a chance to watch and evaluate trialists as Toronto heads into the last week of preseason in Central Florida.
Bekker certainly benefited from his rest on Saturday, scoring both of Toronto's goals in the first half. His opener on a free kick from 25-yards at the 14th minute before a volley with the outside right foot four minutes later put Toronto comfortably ahead.
As intermission approached, Rollins proved itself resilient, scoring a surprise goal from outside the box, then leveling the match during the late stages of a curtailed second half (15 minutes) as Toronto felt a 60-minute run was sufficient for its training purpose on another cool afternoon in Florida.
The full TFC lineup featured Quillan Roberts in goal; Daniel Fabrizi, Derrick Bassi and Justin Davis alongside Califf at the back; Lambe and Wiedeman joined by Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault and Carlos Martinez at midfield; and Bekker with Braun up top. Braun left the match with a small knock to the head and was replaced by Henrik Robstad, who came in to play wide left allowing Wiedeman to go forward.
Davis and Martinez joined Toronto on trial Sunday, one day after Beaulieu-Bourgault and Robstad arrived at camp.
Toronto will play Kansas City in a training scrimmage on Wednesday before finishing at the Disney Classic on Saturday in the fifth place match against D.C. United at 1 p.m. ET.
"Pretty as I'll ever get"
Goalkeeper Stefan Frei suffered a broken nose and had surgery following the first match of the Disney Classic on February 9. Good news for Frei and TFC fans who missed his services over the last season (he missed 2012 with a broken ankle) is that bandages are off and he is eager to start training when he receives medical clearance. When asked how he was feeling, Frei quipped "pretty as I'll ever get."
The Reds will look to follow up on their 3-0 win on Wednesday night against Orlando City SC with another strong performance versus Philadelphia Union on Saturday at the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic (streamed live on TorontoFC.ca at 3 p.m. ET).
Toronto must do without head coach Ryan Nelsen, who is in the UK scouting some players and finalizing his transition to Canada, and midfielder Torsten Frings, who has returned to Toronto on a personal matter and will continue his rehabilitation work from a late season hip surgery in 2012.
An ideal replacement for Frings on Saturday would be veteran Julio Cesar, but assistant coach Fran O'Leary revealed the Brazilian has a slight calf problem that could rule him out of the match. Another player currently ailing with an injury is Matt Stinson (hamstring), who has been used at midfield and fullback during preseason. Toronto kept fullback Ashtone Morgan out of Wednesday's game for cautionary reasons. The Canada international picked up a slight knock against Columbus in the first match of preseason. Goalkeeper Stefan Frei continues to recover from a broken nose, therefore Joe Bendik should again receive the start Saturday.
Although Toronto is slightly shorthanded with a handful of afflicted players and the head coach away, some are successfully on their way back. Centre back Danny Califf (knee) played 45 minutes on Wednesday and hopes to continue toward match fitness. If Morgan is unable to dress on Saturday, one player that could see some time on the left side of the backline is Logan Emory. The second year MLS player is on the road to recovery from offseason shoulder surgery. Emory took part in full contact drills for the first time in 2013 on Friday.
Following their first day off since arriving in Orlando on February 1, Toronto FC players will be back on the training pitch Tuesday in preparation for Wednesday’s preseason match.
It will be the second game in the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic for the Reds when they take on USL Pro side Orlando City SC at 8 p.m. ET. The match will be streamed live on Toronto FC TV.
Training updates on Tuesday will be provided via Twitter, Instagram, YouTube & Facebook. One player that will not be at the session is goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who is scheduled to undergo surgery for a broken nose on Tuesday afternoon. Frei suffered his injury colliding with Columbus' Ryan Finley in the first preseason match on Saturday.
On Sunday, Danny Koevermans, Terry Dunfield, Matt Stinson and Jonathan Osorio were guests of National Basketball Association's Orlando Magic. Here’s a quick look at the night out:
The fourth day of preseason in Orlando on Tuesday was perhaps the toughest session Toronto FC players endured since camp opened at the Kia Training Ground on January 19.
There wasn’t a cloud in the sky over the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, easily the warmest day TFC witnessed in Central Florida following its arrival last Friday night. It was a day when coaches and trainers turned up the tempo.
A 30-minute warm-up included several strength training routines and various running drills before anyone touched a ball. The trainers then handed the players over to the coaches for positional work over the next two hours, before ending with light scrimmage, more sprinting and a long cool down.
Toronto plays its first match in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET against Columbus Crew. The match will be streamed live on TorontoFC.ca via Major League Soccer.