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Toronto FC coach Vanney hopeful some injured players will be ready for final


Toronto FC head coach Greg Vanney is pleased with how his injury-depleted team has responded over the last few rounds of CONCACAF Champions League play. 

He's hoping to get some of those banged-up players back for the opener of the two-leg final against Chivas Guadalajara on Tuesday at BMO Field.

Forward Jozy Altidore is expected to return after suffering a foot injury last Tuesday in a 4-2 aggregate semifinal win over Liga MX side Club America in Mexico City. Vanney was also optimistic that defenders Chris Mavinga (lower body), Gregory van der Wiel (Achilles) and Justin Morrow (calf) would be available.

"It's been a difficult start to the season on guys physically, especially these little things because we've played on multiple different surfaces between hard surfaces, turf surfaces, soft surfaces like BMO right now," Vanney said Thursday on a conference call. "It's just the bodies are taking a little bit of a bump and grind."

Midfielder Jonathan Osorio scored early in the second leg for Toronto FC to get that all-important away goal. Club America controlled play the rest of the way but had trouble penetrating the visitors' defence, with goalkeeper Alex Bono and defender Drew Moor turning in standout performances.

The host side's lone goal came from the penalty spot in injury time.

The status of Toronto FC midfielder Victor Vazquez remains uncertain for Tuesday's game. He's dealing with a nerve issue in his back. 

"It needs a little time to settle down," Vanney said. "There's like a typical window of time and we're right on the edge of it. So we're not quite sure where Victor will be coming into Tuesday. It's precarious because it's a nerve thing."

Before the final gets started, Toronto FC has a Major League Soccer game to play Saturday afternoon at Colorado. The Rapids are 1-1-2 on the young season while TFC owns a 1-2-0 record in MLS play.

A number of TFC II players may get call-ups to fill in so that some TFC regulars can rest.

"It's the mindset of our team: it doesn't matter who's on the field," Vanney said. "We're here to compete and go after this game."

The MLS Cup champions beat the Rapids in round of 16 Champions League play. Reigning Liga MX champions Tigres UANL were next to fall in the quarterfinals before TFC knocked off its second straight Mexican opponent. 

"No matter how you play it out, there's a lot of travel, there's a lot of different time zones, there's a lot of things that go on ... emotionally (the games) are draining as well," Vanney said. "There's for sure some fatigue there. But the guys are excited."

Chivas Guadalajara, meanwhile, has had a middling Liga MX season but edged the New York Red Bulls 1-0 on aggregate to reach the final. The Mexican side will host the second leg of the final April 25 at Estadio Akron.

"When you get into games like this, I don't buy into the favourite stuff," Vanney said. "I think you have to go out and execute and make plays at both ends and give yourself the best opportunity to win.

"They're a good club with a lot of pride."

The Champions League winner will serve as the CONCACAF representative at the FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates in December.


Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

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