Weary Toronto FC will limit the amount of time its starters play in a Saturday friendly against Liverpool, with TFC's young players likely to benefit.TORONTO - Despite the stature of the opponent, don't look for Toronto FC to go all-out on Saturday against English giant Liverpool.
TFC faces the storied Merseyside club in a high-profile friendly at the Rogers Centre, yet the local side will take advantage of a rare opportunity to rest some very weary legs while blooding a few youngsters against quality opposition.
"This is an ideal opportunity for us to see what we've got," Toronto head coach Paul Mariner told reporters at a press conference on Friday. "The game is the biggest teacher. Whenever I view a game, whether it's a scouting game or a training game or any game, the game's the best teacher. It's much better than training. You can learn so much about your players."
One player who could benefit from game action on Saturday is 17-year-old goalkeeper Quillan Roberts, who confirmed to reporters that he will be playing the second half versus Liverpool.
"It's exciting, finally getting to represent my club," Roberts said, "especially in Toronto with a big crowd and against a big club."
The young netminder will likely share the field with fellow TFC academy graduate Matt Stinson, who has seen spurts of limited playing time since signing for the first team prior to the 2011 MLS campaign.
For Stinson, the game is less about the spectacle of facing a legendary club and more about grabbing an opportunity to impress his coaches.
"For me, it's just a game," the 19-year-old midfielder said. "It's going to be a good experience to play against world class players, and that's what I'm taking it for."
Follow GOAL.COM CANADA on
Though Mariner said he would be giving some of the reserves and academy players a shot to play in front of an expected crowd of 35,000, he realizes that his club also needs to put a good foot forward, and as such he'll likely give many of the regular TFC starters around 45 minutes of action.
"I think everybody knows we've had a very interesting month or so," Mariner said of the gruelling recent schedule that has seen Toronto play 10 matches since June 16. "I think that we want to give a good show. I don't think that we want to let ourselves down. I know the players absolutely will not let themselves down."