TORONTO – Fresh off extending their playoff hopes for another week with a rollicking 5-3 home win over the LA Galaxy on Saturday night at BMO Field, the same questions remain for Greg Vanney as Toronto FC prepare for a cup final on Wednesday night.
Tigres UANL come to town midweek for the inaugural edition of the Campeones Cup, a match that pits the MLS Cup champions against the Campeon de Campeones from Liga MX (8:15 pm ET | ESPN2, Univision in USA; TSN, TVAS in Canada).
“That's the million-dollar question,” said Vanney post-match about his team selection. “We'll have some rotation. [But] there is still a trophy on the line, we still want to go for it; it's a home game. We'll do so understanding that we have an important game on Saturday as well.”
“This is an important game, for the league and our fans,” added Vanney of Campeones Cup. “This is a cup that is going to become important over the years.”
That it falls in such a busy, crucial spell does not distract from the glistening trophy that was displayed on the touchlines at halftime and around BMO Field on Saturday.
“It's tough, but it's an important fixture,” said Alex Bono. “Another chance to add hardware to our trophy case. For us, that's been special – we've been really good at doing that the last few years. When there is an opportunity to add a trophy, we've taken advantage of that. It's a good opportunity, a unique opportunity, we'll go into it trying to take a trophy home.”
Under Vanney's tenure, TFC have won an MLS Cup, a Supporters' Shield, two Eastern Conference Championships and three Voyageurs Cups. They were penalty-kick shootouts away from winning the Concacaf Champions League in April, and another MLS Cup in 2016.
“It's a game that we've earned with everything that we put into last year,” said Michael Bradley. “Around the world these types of games are big games, prestigious games, games where the spotlight comes on bright. We're very much looking forward to it.
“It's a chance to lift another trophy,” he added. “It's a very good team, we know them. We're going to recover and get ready for an exciting game.”
With the focus on the league, Vanney has not invested much time on scouting Tigres, a side with whom Toronto played two epic legs in the CCL quarterfinals in March.
“I haven't much, in terms of their performances or their results,” said Vanney. “I looked at their roster just to see which guys were back.
“They certainly didn't get any worse and added a couple more guys that will probably make them better,” he observed. “They're going to be as strong, and deeper, than they were when we faced them six months ago. It will be interesting.”
To keep their postseason aspirations alive, Bradley said that Toronto have adopted a “knockout mentality.” That could serve them well on Wednesday.
And both sides will come in with a chip on their shoulder: Tigres for having been knocked out of CCL by TFC, and Toronto with how the shootout ended in Guadalajara and how their season has gone since.
“It's going to be a tough game,” said Jonathan Osorio, the 2018 CCL Golden Boot winner. “It's the first time that this cup has happened. It's very exciting for both leagues, very good for North America. It's going to be a game both teams are going to want. Every team plays to win trophies; this is another trophy.
“Tigres has been a great team for the last few years now,” he added. “Those two games against them were very tough, very intense, high-tempo games. I don't expect anything different when we play them in the Campeones Cup.”