The annual domestic tournament provides a well-timed respite from league play, and it could also provide an opportunity for TFC to pull itself out of an early-season funk.Toronto FC needs a slump-buster.
The term is rather crude in its origins (look it up if you don't believe me), but the sentiment applies to the struggling Reds. Mired in a three-game losing streak, TFC could use anything to break out of its funk and prepare for a grueling stretch without its star players.
Confidence is at an all-time low, and slumming it a bit to get the mojo going again could be exactly what Toronto needs right now.
Enter the Canadian Championship.
As a long-time champion of the game in this country, I'll be the first to extol the virtues of Canada's little tournament that could. Born out of pure passion from a collection of diehard supporters from coast to coast, the Voyageurs Cup is a feel-good story that deserves all the respect in the world.
But this year, it may serve another purpose to TFC: a means to an end.
The Canadian Championship has always been kind to the hapless inhabitants of BMO Field. Like a sparkling oasis atop a steaming cesspool, the domestic tournament has been TFC's lone bright spot in an otherwise wretched history. Four Voyageurs Cup wins, and the diversionary sideshow of the CONCACAF Champions League that followed, remains the high point for a team riddled with history-making lows.
It's almost as if TFC was built for this tournament. In the past, at least.
Better Days: Toronto FC has lifted the Voyageurs Cup four times.
With that in mind, it would seem to make sense that the likes of Jermain Defoe, Gilberto, Julio Cesar and Michael Bradley be rested for Toronto's first leg semifinal clash with the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday. Why risk the multimillion dollar talent on a tournament that, quite frankly, only the hardcores care about?
The answer is simple. TFC needs a confidence boost right now.
Before the season, the club set a goal of never losing twice in a row. Saturday's excruciating loss to New England was Toronto's third consecutive defeat. Even more troubling is the lack of goals in that span, as TFC's supposedly high-powered attack only struck twice in those three losses combined.
With (yet another) bye weekend in league play to follow Wednesday's clash with the 'Caps, now is the time to throw caution to the wind and go for the big home win that has eluded TFC so far in 2014.
The Whitecaps look to be bringing a mixed squad of players to BMO Field, and they're a decidedly below average team away from BC Place already. Plus, TFC has had Vancouver's number in this tournament since the 'Caps made the jump to MLS.
Fate is seemingly extending TFC an olive branch, daring the Reds to go full out against an opponent that looks primed for the taking. The slump-buster has presented itself to TFC, now its a matter of swallowing some pride and seizing the opportunity.