TORONTO — One week, two games against Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Toronto FC say they are attaching equal importance to their two games at BMO Field this week against their Canadian rivals.
“You can say both of them are finals,” defender Danleigh Borman said, “because we need to win, we need to pick up points in the league, we need the three points and obviously we’d like to win the Nutrilite Cup.”
The teams play a regular-season match on Wednesday (7:30 pm ET, MatchDay Live), then Saturday meet in the replay of the second leg of the finals of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship.
“We’re not holding anything higher or lower,” Borman said. “It’s the same mentality for both games: We want to win both. We just need to work hard as a team, not giving up easy goals and things, early and late. We just need to be solid at the back and I’m sure we’ll score.”
TFC are going for their third consecutive Canadian championship but have yet to beat first-year MLS club Vancouver this season.
The Whitecaps surprised TFC 4-2 in the season opener for both teams on March 19 at Vancouver. They then drew 1-1 in the opener of the two-game NCC finals at Vancouver on May 18. The second game on May 25 at BMO Field was abandoned because of weather and was rescheduled for Saturday. Vancouver led 1-0 in the abandoned match, but on Saturday, the teams start all over by competition rules.
In two games that counted, the Whitecaps scored first. Sluggish openings are a trend that have continued for Toronto through most of the season.
There seemed to be some progress in that aspect for a couple of games. But TFC were again tentative at the beginning in Saturday’s 3-1 loss at Real Salt Lake.
“Real Salt Lake are, first, a real good team,” Borman said. “And then with the altitude and the weather it’s a very hard place to go and play, especially during summertime. I’m not using that as an excuse, we’re all professionals. But I’m sure that played a part in it, you know. We’re professionals, we still need to come out and start the game off good and end the game off well, too.”
Toronto FC midfielder Gianluca Zavarise, a Vancouver native, agrees with Borman about getting off on the right foot.
“We’ll be flat for the first five, 10 or 15 minutes, giving up early chances, and most of them have led to the other team scoring,” Zavarise said. “We need to really start it off at the beginning with something positive, more fight, more determination, more spring in our step. It’s been too long now, we’ve been coming out kind of lackadaisical. These teams here, they jump on opportunities quick and that hurts us.”