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Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Toronto FC – The Voyageur's Cup: Another Chance to Injure the Opponent’s Centre-Back

    On the eve of the 2013 edition of the Voyageur’s Cup, it seemed a good time to bring up a peculiar development over the first two MLS clashes between the Canadian clubs.

    Toronto FC has been responsible for key personnel losses to their opposition.

    In the opening match against Vancouver, it was Jay DeMerit who went down a mere eight minutes into the contest with an Achilles injury. In Montreal, it was Alessandro Nesta who left the fray, lasting slightly long, after eleven minutes with a muscle concern.

    Neither injury was the result of dangerous or overly-aggressive play, DeMerit went up for an aerial challenge with Robert Earnshaw, landing awkwardly and rupturing the tendon. Nesta, lunged to get his head on the end of an Earnshaw cross in the first minute of play, hitting the turf-hardened ground knee first, presumably jarring his muscle in the process.

    Earnshaw, one of the newest members of the club, was the protagonist – antagonist? Suppose it depends from which side one observes – in both cases; not through foul play, but through a tenacity that has helped define the new reiteration of the club.

    In truth, DeMerit should never have been risked, having been troubled by tendonitis in the area throughout preseason. And Nesta, well, his ability to stay fit for an entire season – and his importance to the side – has been questioned repeatedly.

    Both injuries were eventualities, but curious that fate would strike when confronted by TFC.

    Matteo Ferrari, Montreal’s other high-profile, experienced centre-back, had the good sense to get himself injured, meaning he will likely miss the series.

    But what odds on the fit-again Nesta, should he feature in either match, not lasting the full match, let alone the first half?

    Heading into the Voyageur’s Cup, Toronto has some additional voodoo over their Canadian rivals. To many it is baffling that a club that has struggled so mightily throughout its existence has maintained their run of four straight national titles against seemingly superior opposition - opposition perhaps better constructed and more eager for a chance at regional glory, well, regional play.

    As stated before, this year’s rendition of the four-team tournament looks set to be the best ever, with all three MLS teams seriously contesting the championship – Edmonton is unfortunately an afterthought at this point, though an upset of Vancouver in the first round - ahem, semifinals - would provide some much-needed drama on the Western side of the country.

    While this may be one of the smaller national cup competitions in the world and one of the newer ones, as well, it always manages to provide some drama and more than a few talking points to those who take the time to follow its, albeit, brief progress.

    It all kicks off tomorrow night (Wednesday, April 24th) with Toronto hosting Montreal and Edmonton welcoming Vancouver with the return legs to be played a week later (Wednesday, May 1st).

    If possible, get out to a match, if not, be sure to tune in on television. In the future, these years will be the basis of a grander competition and a part of national heritage and pride. May as well get in on the ground floor, eh?

    Sportsnet will be airing both matches on their regional channels; with Toronto-Montreal kicking off at 7:30 pm EST and Edmonton-Vancouver at 9:30 pm EST.

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