The first all-Canadian clash in this year's Major League Soccer campaign is set to be an important one this weekend as Vancouver Whitecaps FC welcome the team from the east, Toronto FC to the west coast of Canada.
Neither team has been able to find their first win of the season and knowing that they will need to pick up momentum soon if they want to start strong and not fall into a rut, the two sides will want to win this in any way possible.
The Whitecaps need home advantage to pay off
Vancouver comes into this game with a record of one draw and one loss so far this season. For a team aiming to be in the playoffs, this was not the start that head coach Carl Robinson would have wanted. The match up with Toronto comes in just days after the Whitecaps picked up their second loss in a row in the CONCACAF Champions League and they will not want to make it a third consecutive loss this weekend in front of their homes fans.
The Whitecaps have had very few issues scoring goals, bar the blank they picked up in their midweek action. It's been the inability to prevent goals that have cost them three points in all of their matches so far. Fredy Montero, the Whitecaps big offseason signing, has yet to open his MLS account this season but he did find the back of the net during the previous round of the CCL so the Whitecaps will be hoping that this weekend will be when Montero leads them to victory. The big miss for Vancouver will be goalkeeper David Ousted who picked up a red card in the Whitecaps' 3-2 loss away at the San Jose Earthquakes, especially considering the Whitecaps' defensive issues at the start of this season.
Toronto will look to win without 'Gio'
Toronto is in a similar situation to the Whitecaps in that they have not won a game yet in the MLS, although they have picked up two away draws which can be viewed as slightly better than the form the Whitecaps are in. In last week's 2-2 draw with the Philadelphia Union, Toronto lost the services of Sebastian Giovinco early on in the game and the Italian is set to miss this clash. That will be a cause for concern for head coach Greg Vanney but he will look to Jozy Altidore to carry the load in Giovinco's absence. The US international has been in good form so far this season and has already opened his account for the season. As with the last time Giovinco missed some time due to injury, Altidore will be expected to step up not only in front of goal but in the creativity department as well. The striker has proven that he can do just that and his team will need him to show up against Vancouver this weekend.
Where Toronto seem to be struggling is finding a fluidity to their game that will allow them to control the tempo and the way the game is being played. The 3-5-2 formation that saw them reach the MLS Cup last year is having issues adapting to the fact that the rest of the league are fully prepared to combat that shape and as such, Toronto have lost a lot of their flank play which has limited service to the likes of Altidore and Giovinco. Vanney seems to be aware of this however and looks to rectify that during training this week so that they would be prepared to win against Vancouver. The fans will be hoping that their coach has found the answers now and that beating a rival at home would be the best way to pick up your first win of the season.
Neither team is in the best of form right now but Toronto do have a knack for picking up points on the road, no matter who the opposition may be and in Altidore, they have someone that can win games in an instant. What the Whitecaps can fall on is that the last time the two teams met, Vancouver ran out as the winners in a 4-3 thriller last year. With the results they have had so far, the Whitecaps will take another 4-3 if it means three points for the home side.