TORONTO — Moments after Toronto FC’s thrilling victory over Montreal on Tuesday night, coach Greg Vanney was ticking off the reasons why winning the Canadian championship was good for his team.
Playing for something meaningful in the middle of a long season was a key reason. And so TFC travelled in Dallas on an emotional high to continue their Major League Soccer season Saturday, after their 2-1 win over the Impact.
“What’s great for us is this was a very meaningful event in the middle of the year,” Vanney said of his team’s Voyageurs Cup win. “Sometimes in a long MLS season, you’re trying to find these moments that you build up as really important moments, because you want to prepare your team ultimately for the end game which is the playoffs, which are very different from the regular season.
“It gives you that mid-season sense of urgency that you have to try to win something. Because in the MLS, when there’s 34 games, it’s very hard to find the moment that is a really decisive moment.”
The one big negative from Tuesday night was the loss of Steven Beitashour. The defender underwent surgery Wednesday after damaging his pancreas, and the team said there’s no timeline for his return. Beitashour was hit hard in the mid-section by Montreal’s Kyle Fisher just before halftime, the collision sending him somersaulting through the air.
His absence is a blow to a team already missing defender Justin Morrow, who’s with the U.S. team at the Gold Cup. Midfielders Raheem Edwards and Jonathan Osorio and forward Tosaint Ricketts have also left to join Canada’s Gold Cup team, and will miss Saturday’s game in Dallas and Wednesday’s game at Orlando.
“It’s just inventory of personnel, who we have, who will be available, and physically ready to go,” Vanney said on rejigging his starting lineup. ”Our group is comfortable in a few different scenarios or systems, and so everything is in consideration now as we look forward to this road trip.
“With so many guys away, it definitely forces a consideration.”
Toronto’s two goals by Sebastian Giovinco on Tuesday were good news. The Italian hadn’t scored since May, and is returning to form after a quadriceps injury that kept him out three weeks. Strikers, as Vanney pointed out, normally gather momentum after scoring.
Saturday’s game comes in the middle of a gruelling stretch of six games over 19 days, that included two games in the span of 48 hours last week.
Vanney admitted he had a tough time sleeping after Tuesday night’s emotional win. So he stayed up and watched part of his team’s victory, and then also watched part of Dallas’s 3-1 win over Colorado the same night.
The coach has no doubt his team has refocused now, and is ready for Dallas.
“Because that’s how this team rolls, one game at a time, one play at a time, and we continue on our process of trying to be the best version of ourselves every time we come out,” Vanney said.
TFC has only beaten Dallas twice in their 15 all-time meetings, although Toronto (10-2-5) currently leads the league, while Dallas (6-3-7) is fourth in the Western Conference.
Vanney pointed out that Dallas is always a tough place to play, especially in the middle of summer.
“So we’ll have to be smart,” Vanney said. “It can be very warm, it can be very wet, and lots of rain and thunder and lightning. Hopefully we don’t encounter that this year and we can play 90 minutes when we’re supposed to play 90 minutes.”
Saturday’s forecast calls for a high of 34 C and scattered thunderstorms.
Two summers ago, Dallas beat Toronto 3-2 in a game that ended in the wee hours of the morning after a three-hour weather delay.
TFC wraps up their three-game road trip in New York City FC on July 19. They’re not back at BMO Field until July 22 against the Colorado Rapids.