Welcome to the latest edition of TFC Republic Weekly, a free email newsletter that will land in the inbox of both paid subscribers and free members of TFC Republic every Monday.
This newsletter will look at what's in store over the next seven days for Toronto FC, and set up their schedule of games for the week.
You'll also get a glimpse of what to expect at TFC Republic in the coming days.
So, without further ado...
CanMNT vs. Panama on Wednesday
Fresh off its historic win over Jamaica on the weekend to clinch a World Cup berth, the Canadian men's team closes out its Concacaf qualifying campaign on Wednesday against Panama at Estadio Rommel Fernández in Panama City.
Canada currently tops the table with 25 points, and had a three-point edge over the United States and Mexico, so John Herdman’s side can finish in first place with a win or draw on Wednesday.
“We showed we were the better team, we showed we are the best team in Concacaf, which I think we set in stone today," TFC midfielder Jonathan Osorio said after the win over Jamaica.
Canada and Panama previously faced each other on Oct. 13, 2021 at BMO Field when the Reds earned a convincing 4-1 win. Alphonso Davies cemented his growing reputation as the best player in Concacaf by scoring one goal and setting up another in leading Canada to a come-from-behind victory.
Like Davies, Jonathan David scored and tallied an assist for Canada, while the home side also benefited from a goal via Tajon Buchanan and an own-goal.
This was a match played at a lightning-quick pace, thanks largely to the attack-minded Canadians who were fuelled by Davies' brilliance. It was also an ill-tempered affair, with both sides nearly coming to blows several times. The hostilities grew so heated that a pair of massive bench-clearing brawls nearly came to fruition.
Canada is 33rd in the current FIFA world rankings, 30 spots ahead of Panama.
Canada leads the all-time series against Panama dating back to 1996 with four wins and six draws in 11 meetings.
CanWNT roster release for home games
Canada Soccer announced earlier this month that the Canadian women's team will play Nigeria in a pair of friendlies as part of its continuing Celebration Tour.
The reigning Olympic champions' games against Nigeria will take place on April 8 at Vancouver's BC Place and on April 11 at Langford’s Starlight Stadium, home of the CPL champions Pacific FC.
The women's side hasn't played at home since last October when it beat New Zealand in Montreal and Ottawa in the first leg of its Celebration Tour.
On Monday, coach Bev Priestman will unveil her roster for these pair of friendlies, which will include Christine Sinclair back into the fold. Canada's iconic captain missed the Alan Clark Cup in England last month due to the recent death of her mother.
The game in Vancouver gives Canada Soccer the chance to celebrate Sinclair’s world international goal-scoring record in front of her home crowd. The celebration was originally planned for April 2020 with a game against Australia, but was postponed on account of the global pandemic. Sinclair, a 38-year-old from B.C., became the all-time top scorer in international soccer, for both men and women, by scoring her 184th and 185th goals on January 29, 2020 in Texas during the Concacaf qualifying tournament for the Olympics. At the moment, Sinclair has 188 goals in 308 appearances for her country.
The two-match series will also mark the final chapter in the career of goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé, who previously announced her plans to retire. Labbé, a 35-year-old from Edmonton, recorded 43 clean sheets in 85 appearances since making her national team debut in 2008. She was a key figure for Canada during its gold-medal run in Tokyo, and was also a member of the bronze medal team at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
TFC vs. New York City FC on Saturday
Toronto FC returns to action when it hosts MLS champions New York City FC at BMO Field on Saturday (4:00 p.m. ET).
This will be the first meeting between the clubs since Aug. 7, 2021 when TFC came from behind to earn a 2-2 home draw. Down 2-0, coach Javier Perez bravely subbed out star forward Jozy Altidore and captain Michael Bradley at the start of the second half. With two key players on the bench, Alejandro Pozuelo stepped up after the halftime break by scoring one goal and setting up another to help the Reds earn a share of the points.
Like Toronto, NYCFC (1-2-1) has been off during the international break, having last played on March 19 when it suffered a 2-0 home loss to the Philadelphia Union. The MLS champs have also been involved in the Concacaf Champions League, having booked their spot in the semifinals after getting past Santos de Guápiles of Costa Rica and Guatemala's Comunicaciones in the previous rounds.
NYCFC leads the all-time series against TFC with five wins and seven draws in 16 regular season meetings.
These teams will meet for the second and final team of this season on April 24 at Citi Field.
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Stories to look out for at TFC Republic
As much as coach and sporting director Bob Bradley had a hand in rebuilding Toronto FC this off-season, club president Bill Manning also played a huge role, while also leading the charge to sign Lorenzo Insigne.
What does Manning think of where TFC sits after a month into the MLS campaign? How would he evaluate the job that Bradley has done thus far? What future moves might the club make? I'm scheduled to conduct a one-on-one interview with Manning this week. Look for my story in the coming days.
Other stories that will be published later this week include:
- My column on Canada clinching a World Cup berth.
- My special video blog on John Herdman.
- My feature on TFC midfielder Noble Okello.
- My piece on the Canadian women's team roster.
- Peter Galindo's weekly tactical and analytical column takes a look at Luca Petrasso's performances thus far.
- In-depth pre- and post-game coverage of Canada's game against Panama on Wednesday.
- In-depth pre- and post-game coverage of TFC's game against the New York City FC on Saturday.
- And much more!
TFC Republic mailbag
TFC Republic will feature a regular reader mailbag column where I answer questions from subscribers about Toronto FC and Canadian soccer in general.
(Top photo courtesy of torontofc.ca)