‘The TFC 3’: Toronto FC’s New Faces Conquer Vancouver


Every week on MLSMultiplex, Toronto FC beat reporter Marco D’Onofrio will look at the three biggest talking points in the team’s win, loss, or draw, as well as, their opponents. 

The TFC 3

Defensive Woes– On paper, Toronto FC kicked off 2015 with a better defense than they had to start 2014 with. Canadian international, Doneil Henry may have left for greener pastures in England, but Toronto acquired Damien Perquis in the winter, they traded for Warren Creavalle midway through last season, and Nick Hagglund now has a year of experience under his belt.

However, the playing surface at BC Place and the pace of the Vancouver Whitecaps exposed the right side of the Reds back line on a number of occasions in the first half.

Greg Vanney elected to deploy a high line through the first 45 minutes and the club paid the price for it. Steven Caldwell and Warren Creavalle were a nightmare in the opening half as they could not keep up with their opposition. Had it not been for what could ultimately be the miss of the season from the Young Designated Player Octavio Rivero and brilliance from Joe Bendik, Toronto FC could have been out of the game before it even started.

Credit must be given to the adjustments made at halftime though, as they looked better as the game wore on and as the home side grew tired. They were much more steady in the second half than they were in the first, but there are still some glaring issues at the back for the Reds that were apparent on Saturday afternoon.

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Just How They Drew It Up– Vanney will not be happy with the way his side went down early in the match, but everything else went according to plan. After some lovely buildup play from Jonathon Osorio, Sebastian Giovinco provided a fantastic ball for Jozy Altidore’s first goal with his new club.. exactly the way the club envisioned when they signed the Italian and American.

The club knew they needed a creative spark to help feed a legitimate No.9, which is why they spent so much time, money, and effort to lure Giovinco to Major League Soccer. The Italian international was key throughout his 80 minutes on the pitch in his North American debut, as he was able to dance around the opposition with the ball seemingly glued to his feet.

Altidore may have struggled in England, but his style suits MLS perfectly as he demonstrated in Vancouver. He is a big and physical striker who will not only benefit from the service provided by the Atomic Ant, but he can also hold up play and create for himself. His two goals on Saturday were enough to earn him man of the match honours and praise from his coach.

“He played like a monster; he showed you what he could do. He proved something today that he’s going to be a handful,” Vanney said following the match.

“And the ball he took down for the penalty kick was ridiculous. And being able to protect the ball like that was just a world class play. So I thought he was outstanding.”

Joe Bendik

– Had it not been for Joe Bendik coming up big on a number of occasions in the first half, this game could have gotten ugly.. real quick. He did his best to shore up a shaky back four through the first half and helped calm things down when the home team took an early lead.

His name doesn’t draw quite the same international attention that Julio Cesar’s did in Seattle last season, but Bednik did well when the Brazilian left the club and he was fantastic in the 2015 season opener. If Bendik did not play as well as he did on Saturday, Toronto loses.

The Vancouver Whitecaps 

Vancouver should have been up by multiple goals when the game went into the break, but could not bury their chances and the pace that had them dominating the first half dwindled in the second. Toronto were able to adapt to the onslaught of pressure the Whitecaps applied in the first 45 minutes and eventually weathered the storm. They became increasingly static in the second half, as they created little to threaten Bendik’s net.

Head coach, Carl Robinson’s biggest concern following the opening loss will likely be with just how much his team dropped off in the second half. Granted it’s the first game and players aren’t necessarily in the greatest shape yet, but after the 15 minute interval, the Whitecaps looked a shadow of the team we saw in the first half.

Despite the loss, there are many positives to take away from a Whitecaps perspective. Rivero proved that he is going to be real force in Major League Soccer and Pedro Morales looked as dangerous as ever.

Fans never like to lose to a rival, but the MLS season is a marathon, not a sprint and opening games can often be deceiving (look at the way TFC started 2014). Vancouver is still a young side and they will get better in the weeks to come.