Bounce Back Match For Toronto

Asif Hossain - TorontoFC.ca
Regaining Form

Toronto FC will hope to regain form against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Wednesday night at BMO Field (TSN, 7 p.m. ET), following a listless performance in Philadelphia on Sunday.

Reds played a seventh game - five on the road - in 23 days and showed clear signs of exhaustion in a 3-0 loss. The defeat ended a five-game unbeaten streak and it was the second loss under head coach Paul Mariner.

Team captain Torsten Frings believes his side can come out with more energy against a Canadian rival on Wednesday. "It's hard to play every three days, but it's our job and we have to give everything. I think (Wednesday) we'll play much better than we did Sunday," the German said. 

Toronto met Vancouver twice this season in the Canadian Championship. The sides drew 1-1 in Vancouver before the Reds took the Voyageurs Cup and a place in the CONCACAF Champions League with a 1-0 win at BMO Field on May 23.

No Allegiance To The Caps

"It will be no problem getting up for this game," Vancouver-native and former Whitecaps player Terry Dunfield told reporters on Tuesday. The Toronto midfielder had a laugh about his recent bout with head and eye injuries, none of which he said are grave enough to keep him out of action. "It seems like my head's been taking the worst of it, but I'm OK now. I don't think I have to worry about losing too many brain cells either," Dunfield joked.

Far from worried about his personal health, the Canada international was more focused on the collective well being of TFC, hoping the team can make the Philadelphia dip an anomaly, while counting on his teammates to help deliver some personal satisfaction. "I loved my time in Vancouver but I'd love to put one over them Wednesday night."

More Canadian Content

Dunfield's Toronto and Canada teammate Julian de Guzman admitted that the mileage on the road took its toll in Philadelphia, "you could see the fatigue was kicking in," he said at the Kia Training Ground on Tuesday after Mariner put the Reds regulars through a light session, while reserves played in a competitive scrimmage against an Academy side.

The midfielder believes team renewal could breed another good spell, starting with Vancouver. "Coming home, mentally it'll be refreshing at BMO Field." Though he doesn't take the Whitecaps lightly, being a Canadian rival possibly still holding a grudge over the Voyageurs Cup, de Guzman hopes a win could be "a nice way to bounce back and regain our confidence again."

The Middle Man

Sluggishness wasn't confined to one particular area of the pitch Sunday, although the Toronto backline suffered most with Philadelphia relentlessly attacking with pace and purpose. Defender Richard Eckersley asserts the key to keeping the opposition at bay rests on everyone.

"It's not necessarily the back four, it's the whole team. We need to defend as a team," the Englishman said. "It starts at the front with (forwards) pressing them, midfielders pressing them and of course, us." Eckersley has been assigned the role of centre back, a position he played for a season for Manchester United reserves. He is ready to continue in that capacity for coach Mariner, though he doesn't expect a repeat performance of the weekend.

"There were definitely harsh words. He's got pride ... it's important that we get back to the drawing board and start better."

The Opposition

The Officials

A referee of just five career MLS matches, Fotis Bazakos is in charge on Wednesday night. Bazakos calls on average 25.8 fouls and shows just 1.8 yellow cards per game according MLSsoccer.com. He has never ejected a player and has leveled just one penalty decision, which was against Philadelphia on June 30, 2012, with Houston's Brian Ching converting. His assistants are C.J. Morgante and Scott Kachmarik. The fourth official is Mathieu Bourdeau.