The playoff buzz in the city of Toronto is palpable.
The Toronto Blue Jays are on their way to the postseason and Toronto FC can join them this Saturday at BMO Field.
With a win against the Philadelphia Union and favourable results in a few other games the Reds can clinch their first playoff berth in franchise history.
It’s been a process to get to this point, one that began when the 2014 campaign ended with a 1-0 loss at New England. “We took a group of players to California [at the beginning of 2015] and said this will never happen again,” said Greg Vanney.
That group, led by Michael Bradley, wasn’t here for the trying times of yesteryear. ”You can feel the weight of responsibility in the group,” stated Vanney. These Reds have a chance to write a new chapter
A Familiar Foe
The Reds own a 2-0-0 record against the Union this year. Sebastian Giovinco’s stunning free kick secured a 1-0 win at PPL Park in May. Giovinco added a goal and assist in the 2-1 win over the Union at BMO Field in July.
Philadelphia has a busy week with the U.S. Open Cup final going down on Wednesday night at PPL Park. No matter what happens in that game Greg Vanney expects to see a side similar to the past two teams the Reds have faced at home.
“Generally their team is a little bit similar to Chicago and Colorado in that they defend well, they defend in numbers and they’re quick to get out in transition,” said the head coach.
“They’re a team that usually plays a bigger striker, somebody that can bounce things off of and get their wingers flying.”
That big striker could be Conor Casey, the TFC boogeyman that scored Philadelphia’s lone goal back in that July encounter.
There is no denying the Reds are watching the league scoreboard as the regular season winds down.
With some help from their Conference rivals the Reds can clinch a playoff spot on Saturday. In addition to a win of their own, they will need New York City FC and Orlando City SC to lose or draw, to guarantee a spot in the postseason.
But the squad has their eyes on a bigger prize, namely a home playoff game in the opening round. With that in mind Vanney and his staff may be hoping NYCFC defeats D.C. United on Friday night.
The Beltway denizens are struggling at the moment. With one victory in their last five games Ben Olsen’s side is clinging to fourth place. A TFC win and a D.C. loss propel the Reds past D.C.in the standings. In the bigger picture that would be the best case scenario.
Blue Jays Buzz
The Toronto Blue Jays will enter the playoffs for the first time in 22 years. Yeah, it’s been a while, and the Reds can join them soon.
Greg Vanney, a former baseball player himself, is well aware of what the Jays are doing and how the city has rallied around the team.
“They are fun to watch and they’ve got a great offensive team.” said Vanney. “They do a lot of things that are important, regardless of your sport.”
“They’ve got a mojo about them, a camaraderie about them. That’s what I enjoy watching. The support aspect that they’ve drawn from Torontonians, for us that’s also motivation. If we continue to win games and develop momentum that same groundswell will come for us.”
The Reds can take the next step with three points on Saturday against the Union.