Wednesday night's match (8:15 pm ET | ESPN2, Univision, TSN2, TVAS) echoes back to the two-leg Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal in March that saw Toronto playing at their pinnacle, dispatching the Mexican side on away goals to continue their run to the final.
Now, outside the playoff places with time quickly dwindling, coach Greg Vanney is adamant that his team are still as good as they played that spring.
“When healthy, we're as good as anybody, can beat anybody, anywhere, in [MLS],” he said.
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“We know the challenge in front of us. [It has] been a frustrating season, but our group is in a good place to attack this final stretch and try to get ourselves back in,” continued Vanney, in Tuesday's press conference. “Everybody knows, when this team is healthy, what it is capable of doing. We've shown that now for two years plus; also in Champions League. We believe we are amongst the top, arguably the top, but you've got to prove that on the field.”
For Jonathan Osorio, the only difference between then and now is the table.
“We've gone through a lot, but we have the same players; have the quality,” Osorio said. “We know when we play our best, we're capable of playing the same way we played earlier in the year.”
With a massive fixture on Saturday when TFC travel to face the New York Red Bulls (5pm ET | TSN - Full TV & streaming info) in hope of keeping their playoff aspirations alive, there has been some debate as to how Vanney and company will approach the midweek match.
The official rosters were released on Tuesday, and of Toronto's strongest possible XI, only Drew Moor and Chris Mavinga, both still recovering from knocks, are not available. And TFC dropped some hints that it may look a lot more like the lineup that defeated the LA Galaxy in a 5-3 thriller on Saturday than it might have seemed at the start of the week.
“There have only been so many times this year where we've been able to put a similar team on the field two games in a row,” Vanney said. “Momentum is an interesting thing for us right now: build some continuity and move forward. It's been a mind-racking few days, thinking about how to best approach this game.”
Against LA, Sebastian Giovinco, Victor Vazquez, and Jozy Altidore all started and scored in the first half, marking the first time all three had scored in the same game. Toronto relinquished their 3-0 lead, but a game-winner from Osorio and another from Jay Chapman secured the three points.
“You saw what we can do: the chances we can create, how dangerous we can be,” Altidore said. “This game comes at a good time. Being able to play the same kind of team two games in a row.”
A reminder of the Champions League comes at a good time.
“If you watched that tournament, we were the best team,” said defender Eriq Zavaleta. “You can't take that away from us. We can match up with these teams because we've done it and that's all that matters.”
That said, Zavaleta does not see this match as anything more than another chance to win a trophy.
“This is not a measuring stick, not to keep our name in any sort of discussion. We don't care about that,” Zavaleta continued. “We care about winning. That is what this club is all about. And if we can lift another trophy for our fans to celebrate then that is the most important thing.”