Toronto FC’s Vanney happy to play the favorite

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The common coach’s attitude this time of season is to espouse the virtues of all remaining teams, giving a false (?) equivalency in a “Last four equals best four” sentiment.

That makes for an interesting debate, and may ultimately be true, but it’s nice to hear a coach stray from those tones (especially if it helps buttress a rivalry).

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Toronto FC’s Greg Vanney saw his team finish third in the Eastern Conference, although there was a perceived gulf between the top three teams (NYC, RBNY, and TFC) and the rest of the conference.

TFC’s Canadian rivals in Montreal were expected to be much better than their fifth-place finish, but some dysfunction and arguable underachievement sent them down a few pegs.

Toronto and Montreal split the season series 1-1-1, and the Impact knocked TFC out of the playoffs last season. That said, Vanney is fairly confident that his team should be expected to triumph over two legs and advance to the MLS Cup Final.

Much of that goes to his Designated Players, as Vanney said Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco, and Michael Bradley have been dynamite. From MLSSoccer.com:

“The two of them [Altidore and Giovinco] are an incredible duo,” Vanney said. “Our goal is to keep them both in a good spot. If we can [do that], the rest of our group, with Michael, who has been fantastic over the last several games as he has all year, the group will be flying. And if that’s the case, than I think deep down inside, my personal feeling is that we have to be the favorite to win.”

The conference finals begin in Montreal at 8 p.m. ET on Nov. 22, and finish at BMO Field in Toronto at 7 p.m. ET on Nov. 30.