T,oronto FC know exactly the task that awaits them on Tuesday night.
With a 3-1 victory in the first leg of their Concacaf Champions League semifinal over Club America last week, TFC enter the match with a two-goal advantage. Weighed against that is the knowledge that the away goal scored by the Mexican side carries with it a potential risk.
Where some may seek to ride out the result protecting what they have, Toronto has no such intention.
“We're coming here to play, to be aggressive,” said Michael Bradley on Saturday from Mexico. “We want to score, want to go after the game and finish things off.”
In their way is a dangerous opponent, one of the most decorated sides in Mexican football history.
“[Club America] are a good team, a team that if you sit back, let them have the ball and dictate how things go, then it can be a long 90 minutes,” cautioned Bradley. “And so we're going to make sure we step on the field, and in a smart, aggressive way, go for things: try to score, play forward, go after them with and without the ball.
“Make sure we do whatever we have to do to finish things off.”
TFC arrived in Mexico on Thursday to begin their preparations for the crucial fixture. Not only must they enter the lion's den that is Azteca Stadium, but they face the uphill challenge of the thin air of Mexico City, some 2200 meters above sea level.
Altitude is one of the reasons why they trekked down some five days before kickoff, but having done all they can, Toronto will not let that be a factor come game time.
“We need to just put it behind us and play,” said Vanney. “Be tactically efficient, take advantage of the moments we create for ourselves, and make sure we protect ourselves defensively the way we need to.”
Where others have fallen short, Vanney sees two reasons why his side is different: experience and continuity.
“A combination of experience in Concacaf, through the US National Team and various means; also [players like] Sebastian [Giovinco] and Victor [Vazquez],” pointed out Vanney, referring to their formative years in Europe.
And whereas in the past there was a vast differences between the iteration of a side that qualified for the Champions League and the one that finally reached this stage, Toronto has progressed with a core group intact.
“[In the past, it] would take three years to win it,” remarked Vanney. “We're a team that has been together; we've transitioned from one season to the next as a group. The continuity has existed for a couple years now. That doesn't always happen in MLS.”
Added Vanney: “Through continuity and experience, we have a very good team; have a good chance to win. That's why we're here. We're not here to just participate, but to win.”