ORLANDO, Fla. – Toronto FC are placing their faith in their youngest players to carry home the silverware at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic.
With his side preparing for a massive CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal first-leg showdown against the LA Galaxy at the Rogers Centre, TFC manager Aron Winter opted to have every player eligible for the CCL contest fly back to Toronto.
That leaves the club’s final preseason match, the Disney Pro Soccer Classic final against the surging Vancouver Whitecaps, in the hands TFC’s young academy players, a handful of trialists and two regular starters from 2011 who are ruled out for Wednesday. The match will be broadcast to a national audience in Canada (8 pm ET, TSN.ca and TSN2) and the USA (8 pm ET, ESPN3.com).
“To me, it’s simple,” Toronto director of player development Paul Mariner told MLSsoccer.com after practice on Friday. “It’s a football game where you go into a final. You’re on television and it’s going to be a decent crowd. Why would you want to embarrass yourself? I wouldn’t. I would want to show everybody what I can do.”
Highlights: VAN 1, HOU 0
Winter and top assistant Bob de Klerk will also make way for assistant coach Jason Bent and Mariner to manage the group through Saturday’s final. Bent, a former MLS player who has worked for Toronto FC’s academy and Under-19 team, knows the players well and conducted Friday afternoon’s practice session alongside Mariner.
There were 16 players who participated in TFC’s Friday training session, including central defender Adrian Cann, who is still on the road to recovery from knee surgery.
“For all of these young boys at the academy, what a fantastic showcase for you to show what you really can do,” Mariner said.
Forward Nick Soolsma (suspension) and midfielder Eric Avila (cup tied) will miss the CCL match and instead serve as the most experienced of the group playing the Disney final.
The match against Vancouver will also be of critical importance for trialists Michael Green, Logan Emory, Kevin Huezo and Moises Orozco as they seek to earn a contract with the senior side. Mariner indicated that a decision on whether to retain them could be forthcoming as early as this weekend for some.
“You just don’t know in football,” Mariner said about the opportunity being afforded the group of players in Orlando. “There’s always someone watching a game. Give yourself the best chance.”
TFC projected starting XI vs. Vancouver (4-3-3, left to right): Quillan Roberts – Kevin Huezo, Logan Emory, Michael Green, Jay Chapman – Efrain Burgos, Oscar Cordon, Eric Avila – Keith Makubuya, Moises Orozco, Nick Soolsma
Available TFC players for Disney Pro Soccer Classic Final:
Goalkeepers (2): #40 Chad Bush, #41 Quillan Roberts
Defenders (4): #12 Adrian Cann (inj.), #32 Michael Green, #35 Jay Chapman, #42 Kevin Huezo, #44 Logan Emory
Midfielders (5): #8 Eric Avila, #13 Keith Makubuya, #16 Oscar Cordon, #33 Efrain Burgos, #38 Sergio Camargo
Forwards (5): #18 Nick Soolsma, #34 Stefan Vukovic, #36 Jordan Hamilton, #43 Moises Orozco