TFC expect war from Hassli, Vancouver

TORONTO — As a Jamaican, Dicoy Williams had never experienced what it was like when Canada’s two biggest clubs meet until the first leg of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship final last week.

He says the intensity of the rilvary was obvious from the opening whistle of the 1-1 draw in Vancouver.

“It’s like a battlefield,” he said at training on Tuesday. “It’s like war, man.”

Despite getting the key away goal in the first leg at Empire Field, Williams says the Reds cannot afford to forget how intense games between the clubs are when they take to the field Wednesday night in the concluding game of the championship (8 pm ET, streamed live on sportsnet.ca).

“We’re going to go out there and we know it’s not going to be easy,” he said. “It’s going to be a war again.”

Williams will be front and center in one of the game’s key battles — shutting down Vancouver Designated Player Eric Hassli. The big Frenchman has scored three goals against Toronto so far this season, including a beautiful 20-yard bending strike in the first leg.

Toronto need to find a way to neutralize Hassli or it could be a long night for the Reds and the dedicated faithful expected to fill BMO Field.

“He’s very big and he’s very strong so it’s ... no fair,” Williams said with a wry smile. “[But] you go play the game just as always. He’s a very skilful player, but I think I’ll do much [better] than last time we played. It’s going to be a real battle out there.”

Schedule-wise, the concluding game of the NCC couldn’t come at worse time for TFC. The team has already played seven games this month and is on a stretch four games in eight days. Vancouver, meanwhile, have not taken the pitch since the opening game of the tie last Wednesday. In fact, the club gave the players three days off last week to recover.

Toronto head coach Aron Winter is a bit puzzled by the scheduling.

“It’s strange that when you are playing a final that one team has a week off to recover, where we have been very busy playing the [Colorado] game,” he said.

However, the Dutchman isn’t about to make excuses.

“Still, against Colorado we played well and have lots of confidence,” he said. “The most important thing is that we are ready for [the NCC] game.”

Williams agrees. He would rather look at the potential positives then wallow in self-doubt and negativity.

“For me, just being new to the team, winning the championship will be a very good prize for me,” he said. “I’ll be ready. I’m always ready.”