After getting a win at Orlando City last weekend, TFC look to take 3 more points out of the City of Brotherly Love. Injuries continue to be a problem for the Reds, with Caldwell out and Bloom and Bendik doubtful. On the plus side, Philly shipped 4 against the Crew last weekend, have injury concerns of their own, and have looked to be varying degrees of terrible this season. One thing seems certain - there will be goals. TFC's offence is a bright point we don't dwell on often enough -- only Columbus has a higher goals/90 at this point in the season. TFC's defense can be an embarrassing mess, which we've talked about at length for the better part of 9 years. Whether or not Bendik is around may be inconsequential.
Match Talking Points
The aforementioned injuries could turn this match in TFC's favour. We may not have Caldwell or Bendik or Bloom, two of whom we've adjusted to playing without anyway. The Union could be without Steven Vitoria, Fernando Aristeguieta, Vincent Nogueira, and Brian Carroll, with Nogueira and Aristeguieta having already missed the last match. Read more about the Union's lineup woes and trail of poor results in Know Your Enemy
Jozy Altidore played an excellent game against Orlando, and his 4 goals are good for a 5-way tie for third in the league. Cheyrou and Giovinco have played provider well, with Gio chipping in 3 goals of his own. Expect them to go at the Union hard on Saturday.
If Bendik is out (and all signs point to that being the case) Konopka could be due for his second start as Roster Player in MLS. His only other MLS appearance was with New York Red Bulls in 2011, where he was called in from the MLS Goalkeeper pool. Konopka is a bit of an unknown quantity to most, but his big frame and familiarity with the TFC backline should see him put a comfortable shift in.
100 games has been an elusive prize for TFC players. Frei has 99. DeRosario got to 98. Wall of Honour member Jim Brennan got to 93. I'm not exactly sure what it says about the club that a Homegrown Player is the first to reach 100 appearances, but you can read Dave Rowaan's take here.
TFC Starting XI
The lineup has some potential to change, but it's likely Vanney sticks with the same front 6 that played in Orlando. In the back, we could see Morgan dropped to the bench and Morrow back in his preferred left back spot. Creavalle would then take another shot at right back, hopefully with markedly improved results.
Keys to the Game
The Union haven't exactly lit up MLS defenses this season, with 10 goals in 9 games. What they have done is allowed 17 goals - the only Eastern Conference team with more goals against than Toronto. TFC need to go at Philly's back 4, whomever they may be, and get themselves on top early.
When defending, TFC have to be aware of good players playing poorly. Le Toux and Wenger are both good MLS players who haven't gotten going this season. Since Curtin shuttled him out to left wing, Wenger has shown he is capable of manhandling most fullbacks in the league when he's on his game. Le Toux is quickly approaching 50 goals and 50 assists in MLS over the course of 8 seasons, and should he decide to turn up, TFC's leaky defense will be in for a long night.
Who would like to see Michael Bradley have an excellent game? Everyone would - USMNT and TFC fans alike. If Bradley can come alive, TFC could have themselves a great deal of momentum heading into the first home game of the year. Wouldn't that be something.
The game kicks off at 4pm at PPL Park in Chester Pennsylvania. You can catch it on TSN4 or MLS Live. Be sure to cast your ballot in Are you Smarter than Ryan Nelsen? and catch all the surrounding coverage here on WTR.
As for a Bold but Useless Prediction: A defender scores a goal for TFC.