Will TFC be able to put up a result on the road without MVP-race leader Sebastian Giovinco?
Maybe. A hard question as TFC lose players to National Team duty and injury. Jozy Altidore is away while Michael Bradley remains in the mix, but Collen Warner is suspended for a tackle on Dominic Oduro, Damien Perquis is still out, as are Jackson and Benoit Cheyrou. Fortunately for TFC fans, Jonathan Osorio missed out on a call up to Benito Floro's national team for World Cup qualifying. Unfortunately, most TFC fans are also Canada National Team fans, so its not all sunshine and daisies in that situation after all.
On the Seattle end, Brad Evans and Clint Dempsey are both available, though Dempsey is returning from injury and will probably be a substitute. Ozzie Alonso is back. Marco Pappa is in the mix. New signings Erik Friberg and Nelson Valdez are also likely to feature. As you can see, this is a daunting one for the Reds on the road.
Match Talking Points:
Injuries and absences aside, TFC should still be looking for at least a point in this game. It will require a lot from Michael Bradley in midfield and a strong backline performance as well. Up top, Luke Moore should be ready to go again, and Herculez Gomez will see some minutes as well. If TFC can grab a goal in this one, a result isn't out of the question.
Another question is how Osorio reacts to his national team snub. He's arguably playing better soccer of late than any other Canadian in MLS, yet fans are scratching their heads while Kyle Bekker - former TFC man and current Montreal roster-spot holder - gets the nod.
Predicted TFC XI
Not exactly a confidence inspiring, star-studded lineup, but TFC will have to make do. With fewer central midfield options, Vanney may opt to go back to the diamond, playing Marky Delgado in the spot he played during the U20 world cup. With Lovitz still nursing an injury, expect Morgan to slide in at Left Back. Luke Moore and Herculez Gomez start up top - a partnership that looks fairly innocuous on paper, but has yet to be seen on the field. If Cheyrou is ready, expect him to slot in at the base of the diamond.
Keys to the Game
If TFC want a point or three, they need a big game defensively. They will have to counterattack well and pick their moments to get forward. They must capitalize on what will very likely be low-possession affair for them. They have to do all of this without their best counterattacking piece in Giovinco.
The Williams-Kantari partnership is growing, with the former Columbus and New York man adding a lot to the back line. With his athleticism and aggressiveness, alongside Kantari's distribution abilities, TFC have a backline that at the very least doesn't make opposing attackers salivate.
The game kicks off at 10 p.m. on Saturday, and you can catch it on TSN 2.