Losing the Voyageurs Cup won’t get Greg Vanney fired. Losing out on the 2015 MLS playoffs will probably be a career death sentence for Vanney and maybe even for his boss Tim Bezbatchenko.

I don’t think there is anything controversial, nor is there anything wrong, with the above statement.

Players from Toronto FC hoist the championship trophy after defeating the Montreal Impact 6-1 in Montreal, Thursday, June 18, 2009. Toronto FC pulled off the impossible Thursday night, reaching its lofty target of a four-goal margin of victory by downing the Montreal Impact 6-1 to claim the Nutrilite Canadian Championship. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes.
The ‘Montreal Miracle’ – TFC Lift their 1st Voyageurs Cup

The problem I and many others have is that this past Wednesday evening Toronto FC showed us all that they somehow think that doing what is needed to give themselves a fair chance to win a trophy that many of their most devoted supporters cherish has next to no importance at all. And most importantly the TFC brain trust somehow think that what might end up being two extra games to play (TWO!! not TEN) if they made it to the Voyageurs Cup Finals would be a horrible burden that might cost them a 2015 playoff place… and their jobs.

Myopia thy name is Toronto FC.

Did the Canadian Soccer Association somehow miss letting TFC know that the format for this year’s Voyageurs Cup competition had changed? Do they not know that the winner of the Voyaguers Cup 2015 only has to squeeze those additional four group stage matches into their schedule next season and not this year? All we are talking about here is potentially two additional matches (assuming TFC would make it to the finals) to be played this season with the chance to reclaim a trophy this club once held four years running.

I am still fuming about Wednesday for two and a half reasons. Those reasons are Giovinco, Altidore, and Cheyrou. Seba and Jozy never made the trip to Montreal (Cheyrou did, and was subbed on late). Vanney decided in his infinite wisdom to leave them back in Toronto. Frank Klopas facing the same sort of decision with his precious offensively minded DP Ignancio Piatti, decided to dress him and to keep him on the bench (Like Cheyrou, he did feature on the second half). But at least Klopas had Piatti – his most gifted offensive player – as an option. Vanney did not.

Whether things Wednesday evening might have been different or not is of course impossible to say but if Toronto found themselves a goal down in the second half and could throw on a Giovinco and/or an Altidore for a short run out things could have been significantly better for TFC then they are now . Guaranteed we will see the Reds facing an ‘autobus’ parking Impact side who will be chippy and bunker next week trying to squeeze out a win.

I fully understand, and to a great extent agree, that Giovinco and Altidore should not have started the match in Montreal. I completely disagree with the folly of not at least having one or both of them as options coming off the bench if needed.  Bringing on the likes of Giovinco instead of (due respect to him) a kid like Jay Chapman late or an Altidore for a fairly ineffectual Luke Moore might have been enough to turn the tide. Not a single starter for Toronto FC Wednesday evening has scored for the club so far in 2015. Only Cheyrou had scored (once) from the list of players who featured.

Most importantly having Giovinco/Altidore as options would have shown their opponents, the League, and their supporters that this team is confident enough in its makeup today that two extra games on the offing would not be enough of burden to scupper the playoffs. It would also have shown all of us that they have enough sense to know that a team needs to LEARN how to win and that going all out for a trophy that has meaning is worthy of their best efforts. And it would have shown their most ardent supporters who are STILL HERE that they understand what is most important to fans – Winning trophies and winning honours.

But as we all know by now that’s not what happened. Seba stayed home. Jozy did too. And Toronto FC lost a lackluster match that they very well could have drawn or outright won. The issue is still in doubt next week and we will speak of it more in this space as the return leg gets closer. All is not lost.

So my thesis after all these words about the Cup tie Wednesday evening is this: TFC (particularly its leadership – Vanney & Bezbatchenko) doesn’t really care about anything other than the playoffs this year. They think that anything that can get in the way of their MLS campaign hurts them and should not be entertained.

However if this is TRULY the case then why schedule a friendly versus Manchester City smack dab in a month that sees the club already play three away games and four home matches? A friendly that I can assure you WILL see Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore appear in.

What kind of message will this club be sending to the core of its support when Giovinco & Altidore play meaningless minutes as part of a cynical cash grab ( and risk Ronnie O’Brien season ending injuries for nothing!) when neither couldn’t be spared for even a few minutes to try and wrest the Canadian Championship away from Montreal – our number one RIVAL?



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