What impact does it have on the season?
The Reds opened the 2019 season on Tuesday night against Panama’s Independiente with a disappointing 4-0 loss in the CONCACAF Champions League. The Reds have one foot out of the competition unless Greg Vanney’s players do something magical.
Vanney deployed a strong side with Michael Bradley and new signing Terrence Boyd in the team. However, striker Jozy Altidore was absent. Without the American striker and the subtractions of Vaquez and Giovinco, TFC had three high-quality players out of the team.
TFC will host Independiente on Tuesday, February 26th. An away goal for Independiente would put the fixture to bed.
What impact does the CCL have on the Major League Soccer season?
There is no doubt TFC struggled during the 2018 Major League Soccer season due to last year’s run to the CCL final. If TFC are knocked out of the tournament on Wednesday night, they can then fully focus on the marathon-like MLS season and the Canadian Championship.
In a recent blog courtesy of the Blue Testament, one writer penned his thoughts on the CCL and how a large majority of Sporting KC fans do not care – or understand – the CCL. Surely, TFC fans are smarter and care more about the team’s CCL play, but the competition does zap players of energy, both mentally and physically.
The long international flights from Canada to Central America is just one way TFC’s players get worn out before the MLS season even starts. Going out of the competition now, and using the two round of 16 games as preseason matches, can benefit TFC going forward.
Can TFC return to the MLS Cup Playoffs?
TFC missed out on the MLS Cup Playoffs last season. The team’s early season performances weren’t great, but much of that was due to the team’s CCL commitments.
MLS now features 24 teams thanks to the inclusion of FC Cincinnati. Due to the addition of the Eastern Conference team, MLS has increased the number of teams in the playoffs. The postseason will have 14 teams, meaning just five clubs will miss out on playoffs in each conference.
Last season, it took a minimum of 50 points to qualify for the 2018 playoffs. The seventh best team last season, Montreal Impact, had 46 points. Although TFC finished with just 36 points, had they played better in their first five matches in 2018 without the CCL, they would have theoretically had 15 more points. Which based on last year’s standings, would be good enough to make the playoffs this term.
What does this all mean for TFC?
TFC haven’t even started the MLS season, so thoughts of the Reds having a bad 2019 based on the CCL is foolish. Elimination from the CCL does not hurt TFC. It actually improves the team’s chances of making the MLS playoffs.
There is no reason TFC cannot be one of the top seven teams in the Eastern Conference. Once they make the MLS Cup Playoffs, anything can happen. Remember, only seven times in MLS’s previous 23 seasons has the Supporters’ Shield winners won the MLS Cup. All a team has to do is make the playoffs and anything can happen.
Right now, fans shouldn’t worry about losing in the CCL. There is a lot of soccer to play.