TORONTO – Fresh off a victory at BMO Field against the Portland Timbers, Toronto FC will get a taste of European opposition when they play host to Premier League outfit Manchester City in a midseason friendly on Wednesday.
Part of TFC head coach Greg Vanney’s job includes preparing his team with scouting videos on opposition players, but against Manchester City, he says his players are already well versed on the likes of Sergio Agüero and David Silva.
“The beauty of this is that these guys have watched Manchester City play throughout the course of the year,” Vanney said. “They know who all these guys are. There are no secrets with Manchester City. At the end of the day, they’re world-class players. They’re going to do phenomenal things.”
So, is this match simply a case of “go out and have some fun?”
“Yes and no,” Vanney answered, explaining that while players who are enjoying themselves let “their creative mind come,” he added that “the flip side of that is sometimes, when guys are having fun, they stop defending because defending isn’t always that fun.”
“We don’t want to do that against this group [on Wednesday],” Vanney explained. “While we’re there to enjoy ourselves, and it’s a little bit of dessert for the fans to see a great team like Manchester City, we have to try to get something out of the game. It’s not just to go kick a ball.”
Vanney will be watching for a few things from his club on Wednesday, but chief among them is how his younger core of players will fit in with the first team. Players like Jordan Hamilton, Chris Mannella and Quillan Roberts are expected to feature in some capacity against Manchester City, and Vanney says he’s looking for how they “play within the structure of the team and make good, solid decisions to help contribute to the team’s overall performance.”
Another player in the mix is Nigerian international Bright Dike, who was recalled from his loan at the San Antonio Scorpions for this one match. Dike remains ineligible for official league matches, though, until the opening of the summer transfer window in July, but he took part in training with the rest of the team on Tuesday.
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Vanney also said he wouldn’t risk any of his players returning from injury, including Mark Bloom and Collen Warner, but then said Sebastian Giovinco would feature, despite the Italian missing training on Tuesday.
“Sebastian has a heel bruise, which is not debilitating,” Vanney revealed. “We want it to go away because he feels it as he’s playing and planting to shoot, things like that. For him, he did some bike, some pool and some work where we could offload some of the work on that heel.”
With Giovinco and Michael Bradley lining up against Manchester City, Hamilton says he’s treating this game like any other, with one thing in mind: getting a result. Hamilton scored in last year’s friendly against Tottenham Hotspur and is looking to keep his 100-percent record against Premier League outfits intact.
“You want to win every game you play in,” Hamilton said. “There are no friendlies in footballs. That’s for the fans. For me, I want to go out and win.”