TORONTO – On a night where some of the biggest stars in the world of football came to BMO Field, it was Toronto FC’s young Canadian core that stole the show, putting on an impressive showing against English Premier League outfit Manchester City.
And, though the match ended 1-0 in favor of the visitors after an 85th minute goal from George Evans, it was a good gauge for TFC head coach Greg Vanney, who was left impressed with his team’s performance in the friendly.
“I thought it was a good match,” Vanney said after the game. “We got out of it healthy and we kept everybody to the amount of minutes we wanted to keep them to. I thought we had a good showing for ourselves. That was key.”
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini was also left impressed by Toronto FC.
“Well, we came here last summer, and we always see New York City FC, so we know about the level of MLS," he said. "Toronto is a good team. Of course, maybe they were thinking more about the game they had to play on the weekend but they have good players and also, a very good team.”
Second half substitutes Jonathan Osorio, Jordan Hamilton (pictured above), Manny Aparicio and Chris Mannella joined Jay Chapman in the middle of the park and created quite a few clear cut chances against the Premier League giants, linking up well and passing the ball amongst themselves with familiarity and skill. For it, they earned the praise of Vanney.
“Jay [Chapman] put in a good shift over 90 minutes,” Vanney said. “Jordan [Hamilton] got himself into some good goal scoring positions. Manu [Aparicio] had a great chance. Chris Mannella was solid in midfield and helped us keep possession and kind of moved the game. I thought all of them did really well and showed well for themselves today.”
It was a friendly match but one that left Chapman, in particular, grinning ear to ear after the fact.
“Oh, it was fantastic,” Chapman said of the game. “It was surreal. Playing against guys of that caliber, it was a huge learning curve for me. Just being out there 90 minutes, I didn’t expect that. I expected to play but I’m really happy and thankful I was able to play 90 minutes against those guys. I learned more in a game like that, you know, than maybe a couple years of my life!”
Chapman went on to explain that those lessons included how to defend against the pace of players like David Silva and Sergio Aguero.
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“David Silva was fantastic,” Chapman said. “Best player I’ve played against by a long shot. Honestly it was just good to be on the pitch with those guys. And, sometimes, my head was spinning a little bit watching them dance around but it was all good fun. It was a great experience.”
For Chapman, there’s only one thing to do after a match like this: go home and watch the highlights.
“Oh, I’m going to watch those 10 times tonight, for sure,” he said.