Backups expected to get opportunity as Toronto FC visits Colorado - InfoNews

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Backups expected to get opportunity as Toronto FC visits Colorado

April 13, 2018 - 1:05 PM

Toronto FC had its big guns in the lineup for the two-leg round of 16 CONCACAF Champions League matchup against the Colorado Rapids last February.

The roster will look significantly different on Saturday afternoon at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

TFC is gearing up for its first-ever appearance in the Champions League final starting Tuesday at BMO Field. But first up is a Major League Soccer game against the Rapids that will likely feature several backup players.

Midfielder Victor Vazquez (back), striker Jozy Altidore (foot) and defenders Gregory van der Wiel (Achilles tendon) and Justin Morrow (calf) are not expected to play against the Rapids, although some could return for the first leg of the final against Chivas Guadalajara. Defender Chris Mavinga (abdomen) is listed as probable for Saturday's game.

Head coach Greg Vanney will likely give some of his regular players the day off.

"As we approach the weekend, we will do our best to rest who we need to rest," he said. "We will play who we think is in the right physical frame and mental frame to get out and play. A lot of guys will get opportunities this weekend.

"There's no two ways about that, which is great for them and for our team."

Defender Jason Hernandez is set to return after re-signing with Toronto FC on Friday. The 34-year-old made 10 appearances with TFC and Toronto FC II in all competitions last season.

"Jason was an important member of our club last season both on and off the field," said Toronto FC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko. "He is an experienced veteran that provides us with another strong defender to an already excellent group."

Over 13 seasons with five different teams, Hernandez has made 293 appearances in the MLS regular season and playoffs.

Later Friday, Toronto FC announced that three Canadian homegrown players who came up via TFC II — defender Julian Dunn, midfielder Aidan Daniels and midfielder/forward Ryan Telfer — had signed with the first team and would be available for selection Saturday.

Sebastian Giovinco and Jonathan Osorio scored in Toronto's 2-0 win at Colorado on Feb. 20 and the teams played to a 0-0 draw in the second leg a week later. In MLS play, Colorado is 1-1-2 on the young season while TFC is 1-2-0.

Dominique Badji has scored four of Colorado's seven goals this season. Rapids coach Anthony Hudson said his squad has improved in recent weeks.

"It's a game we can't wait to play because we are getting filled with more confidence," Hudson said. "We don't fear anyone now and our total focus is just going out and doing just that, playing with no fear and backing ourselves.

"We can't wait for them to come into town, we can't wait to test ourselves against them. We're looking forward to it."

Toronto FC's last MLS game was a 3-1 win over visiting Real Salt Lake on March 30. The Rapids are coming off a 1-1 draw at FC Dallas last week.

"I think they're more familiar with what their coach wants them to do and what they're looking for out of their system," Vanney said on a recent conference call. "Because of that, I think familiarity amongst each other and how they want to press, they've become more aggressive on the pressing side of things now.

"I think they have a little more confidence and clarity in what they're doing."

Toronto FC is 8-6-2 all-time against Colorado in MLS play but just 1-5-1 on the road.

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Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
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