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Third Time's the Charm: Toronto FC vs New England Preview

New England and TFC square off in their third game of the season, a game with tremendous Eastern Conference playoff implications.

Remember, Kids. Teal is a colour. With a 'u'.
Remember, Kids. Teal is a colour. With a 'u'.
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Sebastian Giovinco is (apparently) ready for 3 games in 6 days. Some people think playing Giovinco against New England is a mistake. There's going to need to be at least a little bit of squad rotation, though how much depends on team health. Benoit Cheyrou is likely still out, Collen Warner is still suspended, and Kantari and Perquis may not be ready for full minutes yet. There's a lot at stake, but should TFC focus on the games against New York and Colorado and get maximum points from those?

Match Talking Points

All eyes will be on TFC's starting XI - who will be back from injury? Cheyrou was sorely missed against Seattle, as was Collen Warner. Without a strong midfield presence teams with a dynamic attack (*cough* Revs *cough*) like Seattle will take it to TFC.

New England are unbeaten in 6. They've looked pretty good in that time, though certainly not unbeatable. Lee Nguyen is rounding into form at a good time for the Revs. If New England maintain their form, the East playoff picture could be more or less set in stone, with New York, DC, Columbus and the Revs occupying spots 1-4. New England are streaky, though, and their schedule certainly doesn't get easier, starting with TFC.

Toronto Starting XI

football formations

All of this hinges on the fool's hope that Cheyrou might be ready to play. The strangeness that was the 3-4-3 (the fine play of Clement Simonin in his second game notwithstanding) will be set aside. If Cheyrou isn't ready, expect Osorio, Delgado, and Bradley to play a midfield three, with Findley and Gomez flanking Altidore. The backline could include Perquis, who seems closest to returning, but after Zavaleta and Williams put in an admirable display (a few miscues notwithstanding) I'd expect them to start again.

Keys to the Game

Controlling the middle is of utmost importance, but New England have made it their signature play to whip a crossfield ball (off the foot of Jermaine Jones) to their wingers - one of Teal Bunbury/Kelyn Rowe/Juan Agudelo/Diego Fagundez. The ball then goes to Charlie Davies, then back to Lee Nguyen, who has taken up the space the retreating defense have vacated. Seriously, I know very little about soccer tactics, but this looks like a moving set play to me.

We gotta score a goal. We gotta score it early, and someone other than Giovinco had better score it. With three games in a week, managing minutes will be a concern and players are going to have to step up.

The game kicks off Sunday at 5 pm on Sportsnet 360