TORONTO – The action continues to come thick and fast for Toronto FC as they brace for an away match in Texas, another league fixture ahead of next Wednesday's crucial Concacaf Champions League decider.
Though there is a temptation to look beyond Saturday's encounter with the Houston Dynamo to the second leg against Chivas at Guadalajara, for Greg Vanney and company, nothing changes.
“We're preparing like we do every game,” said Vanney on Thursday. “The guys are training today, looking ahead to Houston. We're going to go there to get points.”
“We went to Colorado, end up losing 2-0, gave away a goal before we even settled in, but for about 70 minutes, we had some chances, they had some chances,” continued Vanney. “Some of these games can look like that. We have a group that is good enough to get results; we'll be going there to get [one].”
“Today was a training session, tomorrow we'll start preparations for the game and specifics,” added Vanney. “And then we'll travel, get ready to play Houston.”
With a packed 2018 schedule--MLS, Champions League, Canadian Championship, and beyond--TFC will see their depth tested all year long. Such busy stretches provide a great chance to make the most of a full roster.
“A lot of guys are going to get an opportunity to play,” said defender Jason Hernandez, who recently re-signed with the club and saw 45 minutes in Colorado. “It's a great opportunity to step on the field, make a case for yourself, and gain experience at this level.”
“Going into Colorado and Houston are two of the toughest road games this league will provide,” explained Hernandez. “Jump into fire and see how we hold up. We have a lot of confidence around here; we're going to put a team out that will be ready to compete on Saturday.”
Saturday will be the club's 12th match of the young season. While they have flourished on the international scene, reaching the Champions League final for the first team, league results have not matched that level. Saturday sees a chance to rectify that incongruity.
“We've got to get this season going, start putting points up on the board,” urged goalkeeper Clint Irwin, who tended the net in Colorado. “Our expectation is to go and get a result, that's the mission.”
Houston, however, will have a different outcome in mind.
“They're very athletic, especially on the wings. They've got good players in the midfield, they're good in possession. We're watching how they rotate players around, into different areas; create different looks,” explained Vanney. “They have a lot of athleticism, guys who are dangerous, at the top that you've got to manage, keep them under control because they are capable of making big plays.”
“And they were very good at home last year,” noted Vanney. “One of those teams much stronger at home than on the road. It's being able to go in there, set up appropriately, to get a result. We can. We have ways we can get at them, create chances for ourselves.”
Being alert to those attacking threats will be a point of focus.
“They've got a lot of pace up front, guys that like to play on the counterattack,” stressed Irwin. “That's something we have to be wary of: they like to get out and run, they have some talented players up there. It's important for us to stay organized, minimize turnovers in dangerous positions because that can be deadly against them.”
But as always, for TFC, the match will be about themselves and what they can do.
“They're doing [well] at the moment,” said Nicolas Hasler. “We go there with a good mentality; we don't go to have a look at the weather in Houston, but to win the game.”
“We go there to win,” restated Hasler. “It doesn't matter who is playing. We had a good training session, the boys are ready. We want to go there and get the three points.”