Sun, 05 Apr 2020

Toronto FC begins title quest at San Jose

Field Level Media
29 Feb 2020, 09:55 GMT+10

Toronto FC begins its quest for a fourth MLS Cup final appearance in five years on Saturday when they open the season at the San Jose Earthquakes.

Toronto FC finished the 2019 season in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with a 13-10-11 record. The club benefited from a scintillating 13-match unbeaten streak down the stretch (playoffs included) before dropping a 3-1 decision to Seattle in the final.

The Reds return many familiar faces from that squad, giving coach Greg Vanney reason for optimism as he heads into his 100th match with the club.

"Physically we're in a good position. A lot of guys are returning, so we picked up where we left off," Vanney said. "We're good, but none of it really means anything until the season starts. Always the first few games are getting yourself really going and into it."

Midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo flourished in his first season with Toronto FC in 2019 by leading the club in goals (12) and assists (12). Forward Jozy Altidore (11 goals, seven assists) also was a consistent force on offense, although remaining healthy appeared to be his most formidable foe last season.

Quentin Westberg aims to recapture the magic of his sterling play in net for Toronto FC, who dropped a 2-1 decision to San Jose in the clubs' only meeting last season.

MLS all-time leading goal-scorer Chris Wondolowski (159) tallied twice in that contest to highlight his team-best 15-goal campaign for the Earthquakes, who were undone by a six-match losing streak down the stretch to miss the playoffs.

Wondolowski, 37, is joined by midfielders Vako (eight goals) and Cristian Espinoza, who notched a club-best 13 assists.

Daniel Vega is expected to be in net for San Jose, which kept its club largely unchanged after finishing in eighth place in the Western Conference with a 13-16-5 mark last season.

"The most challenging goal is to be competitive," manager Matias Almeyda said. "By being a competitive team that can define the course of the season. ... We're looking forward to starting the season and I am personally thankful towards this organization and this league and style of soccer that allows me to continue learning. We are very enthusiastic."

--Field Level Media

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