Preview: TFC vs. Union

INTERVIEWS: Michael Bradley | Steven Caldwell

Finally, there’s a game to talk about.

Saturday’s loss at home to New England wasn’t too long ago, but it feels like it after big changes at TFC. The transfer window’s closure in Europe coincided with events in Toronto but at last, there’s a game to talk about. Forgive us for not being patient.

The Philadelphia Union enter September with heightened expectations. That’s a testament to the work of interim manager Jim Curtin, leading the Union to the US Open Cup title game against Seattle in two weeks.

Curtin took over from John Hackworth on June 12, coaxing the Union to a 4-2-3 record and the club trails TFC by three points in the Eastern Conference. Yes, this is yet another six-point game.

Led by Sebastien Le Toux and Cristian Maidana, Philadelphia enjoyed a week of rest following a 4-2 win at PPL Park against San Jose. A friendly versus Harrisburg served as a time killer ahead of a massive two-game stretch that will see the Reds and Philadelphia complete a home-and-home series.

Vanney wants energy

Greg Vanney’s first game in charge of Toronto FC comes with high stakes. From the outset, Vanney’s plan will focus on a positive opening to the game.

“My first concern is the energy with which we start the game,” Vanney said on Sunday. “The passes backwards, where we start the game in our own half of the field, that’s not an energy-positive way to start the game, especially when you come off a long game prep getting ready for that first whistle. The starts have been passive and negative and we need to be more aggressive right at the start.”

Getting away from rigid play, where the fear of making mistakes overrides all else, is another focal point for Vanney.

“The priority here is to unleash the players a bit and allow them to express themselves,” Vanney said. “Over the last two, three games, we looked [like we lacked] energy.”
Though the turn around from Saturday’s disheartening loss is short, the Reds have everything to play for in the coming weeks. That starts on Wednesday. The team, led by Michael Bradley and Jonathan Osorio, must be up for this.

Henry and Morgan return

Injury concerns at the back for TFC led to negotiations with the CSA. Doneil Henry and Ashtone Morgan will be with the club in Philadelphia after returning from Canada’s training camp.

For Morgan, Vanney’s hiring creates a new chance to impress. Minutes have been hard to come by for the 23-year-old, but a new regime creates new opportunities for the Canadian international.

Henry is the lone constant on a backline that has been ravaged by injuries. His presence is massive as the team heads into the business end of their schedule.

The road to TFC’s first playoff berth in franchise history continues in Philadelphia. Catch the game on TSN 2 at 7:00 PM ET.