Toronto FC opens defence of Voyageurs Cup

Canadian pride and a sense of injustice will be fuelling Toronto FC as it opens defence of its Canadian championship on the road Tuesday against the USL’s Ottawa Fury FC.

Greg Vanney’s MLS-leading team has a burr under its saddle after thinking it had secured qualification for the CONCACAF Champions League when it won the Voyageurs Cup for a fifth time last year.

A change in format for the CONCACAF club championship led to a scheduling logjam, however. Now Toronto has to win the Canadian championship again to secure qualification. Failing that it will have to beat whoever does win the domestic title to join the Champions League.

“The rules have changed on us …. We’ve got to go back and we’ve got to do it again,” Vanney said in a conference call Monday. “We’d like to do it through this path because it keeps the trophy in Toronto and it will solidify that (CONCACAF Championship league) position.

“For us the playoff game is solely just an ‘oops’ moment if for some reason we don’t get through this and take care of our business in this tournament.”

The semifinal second leg is slated for May 31 in Toronto. Toronto hosts Columbus on Friday and Ottawa entertains the Richmond Kickers on Saturday in between.

Vancouver hosts Montreal on Tuesday in the opening leg of the other Canadian semifinal.

Toronto is without injured striker Sebastian Giovinco and defender Nick Hagglund.

Vanney will likely rest other regulars while turning to the Canadians on his roster. As Toronto’s former academy head, he takes satisfaction in seeing the club’s homegrown talent flourish.

Local talent at his disposal includes Jay Chapman, Raheem Edwards, Jordan Hamilton, Ashtone Morgan and Sergio Camargo, plus anyone he wants to summon from TFC 2. Midfielder Jonathan Osorio awaits a final call Tuesday morning on whether he has medical clearance to play.

“We want to give guys an opportunity and we’ve got a team that is deep and a lot of guys have earned the right to be on the field,” said Vanney. “And this is a meaningful match for us.”

For Ottawa, defender Kyle Venter and midfielder Gerardo Bruna are doubtful. Defender Ramon Martin Del Campo and forward Steevan Dos Santos are game-time decisions. Forward Carl Haworth is still dealing with a longterm ankle issue.

The first ever Battle of Ontario is a short turnaround for both clubs.

Ottawa is coming off a 4-3 comeback road win over the Red Bulls II on Saturday that saw the Fury score twice in the final three minutes.

Toronto (7-1-5) played to a 1-1 draw at the MLS Red Bulls on Friday, snapping its franchise-record six-game win streak.

Ottawa (2-3-3) sits 11th in the USL Eastern Conference standings. But it has only lost one of its last eight matches (4-1-3) in all competitions.

Fury FC assistant coach Julian de Guzman, who retired as a player in January, sees the Canadian cup tournament as a valuable showcase for Canadian talent at several levels.

“For Ottawa, the Canadian players that are involved, to play against another Canadian team — probably the best Canadian team at the moment — I think’s it’s a great opportunity,” he said.

And the former Canada captain sees the CONCACAF Champions League “as a great way to prove that Canadian clubs do have qualities.”

Ottawa reached the Canadian championship semifinals for the first time last season, posting a 2-0 home win over the Whitecaps before falling 3-0 in Vancouver.

De Guzman, who finished out his distinguished playing career with the Fury, said the two-game series was a learning experience for Ottawa.

“It’s something a lot of players have seen watching on TV but not many have really experienced that at this level on our team.”

The Fury, who made their debut in 2014, advanced this year with a 4-2 aggregate win over FC Edmonton.

De Guzman won three straight Canadian championships with Toronto. The franchise’s first Canadian designated player, he made 93 appearances for his hometown club from 2009 to 2012.

De Guzman, who has fond memories of his time in Toronto, acknowledges the semifinal series will be “bittersweet” personally.

Toronto’s all-time record in the competition is 16-7-9, compared to 2-5-1 for Ottawa.

Just Posted

Women’s marches underway in Canadian cities, a year after Trump inauguration

Women are gathering in dozens of communities across the country today to… Continue reading

Red Deer councillor balks at city getting stuck with more funding responsibilities

Volunteer Central seeks municipal funding after being cut off by government

Olds chicken barn burns to the ground, no livestock harmed

More than 100,000 chickens were saved as fire crews prevent the blaze from spreading

Bear video meant to promote conservation: zoo owner

Discovery Wildlife Park says it will look at other ways to promote its conservation message

WATCH: Setters Place grand opening in Red Deer

Red Deer’s Setters Place officially opened to the public Saturday afternoon.… Continue reading

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month