By Jerry Mancini.
The Canadian Derby once again went in Toronto FC’s favour as they won 1-0 against Vancouver Whitecaps on Friday.
Both clubs came into this match on short rest, yet TFC continued where they left off and put in another hard-fought effort. It was Richie Laryea who led the way for the Reds, scoring his third goal this season inside 15 minutes to settle the tie.
With questions circulating regarding his future at the club, Whitecaps boss Mark Dos Santos didn’t help his cause with another frail defensive effort — Vancouver allowed an early goal and have conceded a league-high 14 goals in MLS so far this season. Having failed to score in three straight matches, things aren’t too great at the other end of the pitch either.
The Whitecaps struggled to hold onto or advance the ball upfield to sustain any pressure in the final third, finishing with a possession rate of 33% and letting off just six shots. Lucas Cavallini once again didn’t make an impact as TFC’s defence were aggressive and limited him to one shot, 22 touches and only 10 passes.
Toronto FC weren’t as dominant as they were on Tuesday night, yet were still able to control the majority of the game and dictate the tempo. Although Vancouver’s approach to the game was much different this time around, it made little difference. Coming off two days rest, it was expected that changes were going to be made by both sides.
“The difference from Tuesday’s game is Vancouver sat off a lot more, and they had five in the backline,” Vanney told reporters after the game, describing the difference between Tuesday and Friday’s meetings.
“So, it was our job to move those guys out of the backline and try to create some spaces to be able to attack. We did an okay job at times, but at times we were a little bit too impatient.”
With the win, TFC’s unbeaten streak also extended to 17 regular-season games which dates back to August of 2019 — the fifth-longest run in MLS history.
17 – @TorontoFC is unbeaten in 17 straight regular season matches (W8 D9), the fifth-longest streak in @MLS history, but have just won two straight matches for the first time in that run. Trot. pic.twitter.com/fY8LYkl26P
— OptaJack⚽️ (@OptaJack) August 22, 2020
The club have shown themselves to be resilient, finding different ways to win their matches. With the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic, TFC have been forced to play in different venues and unusual circumstances. Yet, the Reds continue to dig out results, ensuring they remain right at the front of the leading pack in MLS.
Vanney has done a great job this season in keeping his men focused and prepared for their matches. He described what has contributed to the club’s recent success in such dire times.
He said: “I think our group is pretty mature. We have a bit of two factions on our team. We have the young guys who come through. Many of them who come through the academy and we’ve got some veteran guys who have played a lot of games and they played a lot of games together.
“There’s a lot of continuity in that group. A lot of guys were motivated playing out of the stoppage, they were motivated to get into the season after going out of the finals last year and not finishing it off. So, there’s a lot of motivation in our group to be successful again this year.”
Off-season arrival Pablo Piatti played over 80 minutes for the second straight match and has been a difference-maker in their games. He started the build-up to Toronto’s only goal of the match with a brilliant individual effort to fight off several defenders before getting the ball towards Alejandro Pozuelo. The forward also showed great chemistry with the Spaniard as they were able to connect on several plays.
However, it was the overall performance of the team in front of Quentin Westberg that made the difference in this match. The goalkeeper earned his fourth clean sheet this season and believes the team’s success has been attributed to both an individual and collective effort.
“I think we’ve done well but we’ve done well both individually and collectively,” Westberg said.
“We’ve been playing together for a while now and we’ve really established a good identity. It’s always easier when you know what to expect.
“I think it’s an overall grade of effort. Our playing values and our principles are very well established and sometimes its clearer than others.
“We have a lot of the ball, we create chances and we’re great defensively.”