Archive for the ‘Toronto FC’ Category

VANCOUVER, B.C – Please visit Pro Soccer USA for my Whitecaps FC vs Toronto FC report.

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Whitecaps FC vs Toronto FC at B.C. Place in Vancouver on May 31, 2019. Photo: Har Journalist 

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VANCOUVER, B.C – The Toronto Raptors will make history tonight when they host the Golden State Warriors in the first NBA Final game outside of the United States. The Raptors have the support of the an entire country behind them from coast to coast.

The support extends to Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s biggest Raptors fan, Doneil Henry. The 26-year-old Henry, has fond memories of going to games with his family, well before the ‘We The North’, Drake, Raptors brand took off to unexpected levels.

“I had an aunt that use to bring me out to the Raptors games,” Henry explained exclusively to Har Journalist. “When Vince Carter was there. Just when Toronto started to have a buzz around basketball. Carter, the Junk Yard Dog (Jerome Williams), Mo Pete (Morris Peterson), these are the type of guys I think about when I think about the Raptors.”

The Brampton, Ontario native is a primo Raptors fan. He has lived through all the ups and downs from Alonzo Mourning, Rafael Araujo, to Andrea Bargnani. Henry knows that building a championship contender takes time, it can’t be build overnight. Seeing the Raptors in the NBA Finals after twenty-four years makes it all that more enjoyable.

“I’m a real fan, I’m not a hater,” Henry explained. “I’m the type of guy, it doesn’t matter how the team is doing. We trust the process. I’m a sportsman, I understand the game from a professional level. I know it’s not easy for a player, or management. Everybody wants to do well, and sometimes it takes time to get all the pieces right.”

Toronto Raptors President, Masai Ujiri, has found the right pieces to put his team in a position to upset one of the best NBA teams to take to the hardcourt. Kyle Lowry was always an x-factor, but adding Kawhi Leonard has helped the Raptors reach new heights. It has also helped having nemesis, LeBron James in the western conference with the LA Lakers.

The Warriors are a once in a generation NBA franchise. They have re-written the book on how to play basketball. There is no poor shot when Steph Curry pulls up. Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala all know what it takes to win an NBA title. Even with Kevin Durant waiting on the sidelines. Henry isn’t wavering.

“I have no fear, I have no worries,” Henry revealed. “I believe in the team, we have really good players. If any games I felt like we were in any trouble, it was the (Milwaukee) Bucks. No-one can mark (Giannis) Antetokounmpo. He’s a great player, young player, explosive, and aggressive.”

“I think that with Golden State, we match up better with them,” Henry continued. “We have lock down defenders that can defend the perimeter. Now it’s the question of who is going to guard Kawhi…”

Toronto could be the toughest team the Warriors have faced in the previous four NBA Finals. The Cleveland Cavaliers tried, but only managed to win once. For Henry, it’s not a matter of if the Raptors will win, but how many games it will take.

“Six, in The Six.” Henry said with confidence.

“I love the Toronto Raptors,” Henry beamed. “It’s really good to see that we’re in the finals.”

If the Raptors win game six at Oracle Arena, in Oakland, California, Henry will be ready to celebrate in his own special way. You won’t see him in his favourite purple Tracy McGrady jersey cheering on Yonge Street during a potential parade.

“Nope, I’m not into all of that.” Henry said.

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VANCOUVER, B.C – It’s going to be an all Canadian battle on Friday night at B.C. Place as Vancouver Whitecaps FC take on bitter rivals, Toronto FC. Vancouver will be looking to continue their recent run of form with a victory over a 5-6-2, (17 points) Toronto FC squad that’s winless in their last five matches (0-4-1).

Vancouver has picked up valuable points over Sporting Kansas City, New York Red Bulls and FC Dallas. Whitecaps FC have 17 points, from a 4-6-5 record this season, and they’ll be looking to head into the MLS Gold Cup break on a high.

Even with the Canadian Championship, Vancouver and Toronto don’t play each other often enough. When they do get together, there’s always fireworks, and plenty of bragging rights, for several Canadians from ‘The Big Smoke’.

“It’s important, we want to finish off strong,” Ajax, Ontario native, Derek Cornelius explained to Har Journalist. “We want to end this difficult stretch on the right foot. Yeah, it’s my hometown, so of course I want to do well, and get the three points for the club.”

Vancouver goalkeeper, Maxime Crepeau, is locked in and playing some of the best football of his career. Crepeau has solidified his role as a number one MLS shot-stopper, and he has recently come up with several quality saves of the spectacular variety.

The 25-year-old, Crepeau, relishes the opportunity to go up against a versatile Toronto FC side that features the ever dangerous Jozy Altidore, and first-year MLS magician, Alejandro Pozuelo. The dynamic duo lead Toronto’s offence with five goals each.

“Toronto is a team that’s been successful over the years,” Crepeau told Har Journalist following training. “They went to the cup final. Toronto is a team that can play with both systems. They can play 3-5-2, 4-3-3, and 4-4-2. They’re a good team, and we just have to maintain them, and we’ll be good.”

Vancouver skipper, Jon Erice, knows just what kind of exceptional talent, Altidore brings to a pitch. The former La Liga talent was a young prospect with Villarreal, when Erice first had a glimpse of his future potential.

“I saw Jozy Altidore when he was young, and playing in Spain,” Erice revealed. “He’s improved a lot, he’s a very very strong guy, strong player. A quality player. Michael Bradley, is one of the best players in MLS. One of the best midfielders, and we know him very well. They are a very good team, not only these two guys, and Pozuelo. They have a lot of good players.”

Whitecaps FC will be without the services of Brampton, Ontario native, Doneil Henry. The avid Toronto Raptors supporter will miss his second consecutive match with a left hamstring strain. Striker Joaquin Ardaiz, and winger, Lass Bangoura will also be unavailable. However, left-back, Ali Adnan, and winger Yordy Reyna are in contention.

Toronto FC also faces an injury crisis. Jonathan Osorio (hip / groin), Michael Bradley (hamstring), and Auro (hamstring) are all listed as questionable. It’s uncertain if any of the trio will travel to Vancouver today. Despite facing a depleted roster, Whitecaps FC coach Marc Dos Santos, isn’t about to underestimate Toronto FC.

“We know what we want to do,” Dos Santos explained. “I believe that there are seven to ten teams in the league that are just kind of vintage, top teams. Toronto is part of that group. How they invest, the fans, the fact that in the last three years, they went to two MLS Cup finals. Eight of the eleven starters are the core that went to the final. I know what they’re about. We’re always going to respect an opponent like Toronto. It’s going to be a tough game regardless of who comes here.”

While there might not be an edge on paper for either side. Vancouver can boast an advantage by just being at home. MLS western conference teams are on a fantastic run of form against their eastern conference foes. Western teams are 11-0-2 in their last thirteen matches against the east.

Might there be a new west coast v east coast beef underway on the pitch?

“It would be unfair for me to say that the western is stronger,” Dos Santos pondered. “I think that maybe in this moment right now, the teams of the west are just in a better form. Maybe travel affects, I’m not sure. It doesn’t mean that at any moment, teams like Atlanta have a lot of quality in their roster. New York Red Bulls can jump and become stronger.”

Whitecaps FC will be looking to jump all over a Toronto FC side that hasn’t found their stride in 2019. Vancouver’s key off-season pieces are finally starting to clicking, and the club looks to be finding some consistency. The centre of the universe could be in for tough night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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VANCOUVER, B.C – It takes a full team that’s committed from the first day of preseason to buy in, and be a successful MLS club. LAFC are 7-1-1 on the season, and sitting pretty at the top of the MLS table. LAFC can flick a switch and score in bunches.

Yes, it’s early, but Bob Bradley’s side are easily the team to beat. Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi, and Christian Ramirez are leading the way on offence, but LAFC are equally talented on the back line with a pair of defenders that provide a strong veteran presence.

Steven Beitashour, and Jordan Harvey bring the kind of leadership, and MLS experience that a lot of MLS teams simply don’t have. LAFC’s full backs know what it takes to win. They’re out to prove that they still have a lot of left in the tank. Not only is LAFC a thriving on the pitch, but they are a well connected side off the pitch.

“Yeah, I think we’ve been gelling,” Beitashour explained. “Obviously that comradorite and having a year together, and really getting familiar with your teammates. In Bob’s (Bradley) system, I think it’s a very unique style. There’s a specific way he wants to play, and I think now, we’re really comfortable with it. You can see that, in the way that we’ve started so far.”

It also helps to have early season MVP candidate, Carlos Vela who has already scored 10 goals this season. A team that has the quality, and depth that LAFC has, doesn’t need a lot of opportunities to score.

Vela, and Rossi have combined for 16 goals, and 6 assists.

Having the ability to throw Vela, and Rossi at opposition defenders is a great problem to have for Bradley and his coaching staff. It’s also a luxury to be able to compete against the duo each day in practice.

“Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun playing with them, and going against them,” Harvey told Har Journalist, in Vancouver. “I think that’s something that kind of gets overlooked. As defenders, we get to go against some really special attackers every day in training, and that really helps us out. When we step on the pitch, we’ve been playing against the best players, I feel like, in MLS. When you come on, it makes your job a little bit easier, and you know what to expect a little bit more.”

While both Beitashour, and Harvey have spent considerable time playing in Canada, they have always played in a similar natural full back role. Now that they’re in Los Angeles, that role hasn’t changed much. The duo is still offensive minded, with a few additions.

“You’ve seen us both play for long enough, you know our roles,” Beitashour joked.

It’s not enough to rush up the pitch and contribute on offence. That’s already expected from a modern full back. The ability to add another offensive dimension without jeopardizing your defence, is what separates outstanding full backs.

“It’s similar to what we’ve been doing our whole careers,” Beitashour said “At the same time. I think there are moments when we are tucked in more, and almost playing, like a central role. Maybe in the past it’s more stay wide, get up, and get down. Over here, I think we’re tucked in a little more, and able to connect with passes. When we don’t have the ball, we’re also offensive marking, and preventing any counter-attacks that could happen.

“I would agree,” Harvey said.

The 32-year-old, Steven Beitashour, and 35-year-old, Jordan Harvey, are the type of MLS veterans you need to win an MLS championship. They put the work in each day, bring a positive mindset, and want to help the next generation.

Together they are hoping they can help LAFC reach the ultimate goal this season.

“The ultimate goal is MLS Cup,” Beitashour smiled.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Team Caleb with Toronto FC’s 6th overall selection Griffin Dorsey from Indiana University at the 2019 MLS SuperDraft in Chicago. Friday, January 11 – Photo: Har Journalist

CHICAGO – The picks are in and the first two rounds of the 2019 MLS SuperDraft are in the books. Toronto FC, Whitecaps FC and the Montreal Impact all added talented young players to their rosters, but it was Griffin Dorsey and Team Caleb that stole the show.

Toronto FC’s 6th overall selection gave them the highest pick among the Canadian trio. The Reds selected midfielder Griffin Dorsey from Indiana University.

The 19 year-old Dorsey, immediately showed his leadership, compassion, and character as he shared his special moment with his 8-year-old friend, Caleb from McCourtsville, Indiana.

Caleb is a devout Indiana Hoosier soccer fan who has faced a variety of challenging illnesses in his young life. He loves soccer, but isn’t able to play the sport. It was a no brainer that Dorsey wanted to invite his biggest fan to the MLS SuperDraft.

“I met him through IU,” Dorsey said of Caleb. “He started supporting us and we got him into the locker rooms and he moved our whole team. He moved me, and it’s an honour to be able to share this with him.”

“I think he wanted to be here, but I also wanted him to be here. It was an honour.”

“He’d come to all the home games. He ended up coming to the college cup in California, and he was with us all the way through the season. He was in the locker room, around the team. He was doing everything with us. It was awesome to have him around.”\

In Dorsey, Toronto FC is getting a footballer that is much more than the beautiful game. Dorsey cares, and he wants to use his abilities on and off the pitch to help others. The hard work begins now, and Dorsey will be ready to show Toronto FC what he can do.

“I can’t wait to get started, get to work, and meet the guys on the team that I’ve looked up to. I want to be a professional soccer player. Here we are living the dream, and I can’t wait to start the hard work.”

When the Colorado native does crack TFC’s lineup, you can be sure Caleb will be there supporting him just as he did during Dorsey’s time at Indiana.

“I would hope so,” Dorsey smiled. “I definitely hope he comes up for sure.”

Vancouver Whitecaps FC had a bit of a wait until they made their only selection of the day. The Caps selected  Georgetown University centre-back Brendan McDonough.

In 63 appearances and 52 starts for the Hoyas, McDonough contributed two goals and two assists in four years at Georgetown.

“Brendan is a centre-back that has a good margin to progress,” Whitecaps FC Coach Marc Dos Santos told reporters at the SuperDraft. “He’s a player that catched our eye when we were looking at the combine, and even before. He’s a centre-back that has the ability to play in back-four or a back-three. We like speaking with him to also learn about the person. He’s comfortable on the ball, he’s aggressive defensively, so we’re proud to have him.”

“We knew at the 35th pick, we had to pick the best player possible, and he was always number one for us in that type of round. We’re happy with that pick.”

The 22 year-old McDonough was not in attendance at the MLS SuperDraft. Whitecaps FC fans can expect to see him when training camp begins in Vancouver on Monday, January 21.

“He’s very happy to come to Vancouver” Dos Santos echoed.

Although Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal did not stock pile draft picks, it was a strong MLS SuperDraft for Canadian born players as three were chosen among the first 10-picks.

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FC Dallas 4th overall selection Callum Montgomery from the Victoria Highlanders at the 2019 MLS SuperDraft in Chicago on Friday, January 11 – Photo: Har Journalist

Victoria, B.C. native, Callum Montgomery was the highest Canadian selected. The former UNC-Charlotte centre-back went 4th overall to FC Dallas. After meeting with FC Dallas at the MLS combine. He had a bit of an inkling that Dallas might be his destination.

“I was a late bloomer,” Montgomery admitted. “My career developed at different times. I wasn’t part of Whitecaps residency program or their residency team. Growing up, I played for the Victoria Highlanders which was a great success and a great team. I had a wonderful experience with the Victoria Highlanders. I’m just really excited to be with FC Dallas and hopefully contribute.”

“I hear Dallas is a great city. New coach coming in. It’s an exciting time for the club. I think it’s going to be an unbelievable experience. They have some centre-backs I can learn from and grow my game every single day. That’s my mentality. I want to get better every single day. I’m really excited and just looking forward to the home opener.”

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The 2019 MLS SuperDraft in Chicago on Friday, January 11 – Photo: Har Journalist

In a year where we saw a Union dissolve all of their MLS SuperDraft picks, it just goes to show that the MLS SuperDraft is still an important day for the next generation of MLS footballers. You only have to see the generosity from Griffin Dorsey.

Notes: The Montreal Impact selected Maryland’s Amar Sejdic 34th overall. Toronto FC also took Adam Wilson 39th overall from the University of Louisville. Vancouver and Montreal did not make a first round MLS SuperDraft selection.

 

VANCOUVER, B.C – Please visit Red Nation Online for my Whitecaps FC vs Toronto FC match breakdown.

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VANCOUVER, B.C – Please visit Red Nation Online for my Canadian Championship Final match breakdown between Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Toronto FC.

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