Toronto's results in New York have given surprising hope to a typically cynical fanbase (cynical? us?), and the league is taking notice. We haven't even done anything pretty yet. Giovinco has been good, but he hasn't hit anything jaw dropping. In the other camp, the bullish SKC faithful are two wins into the season and they have a reason to gloat. They saw off two excellent teams in Seattle and Vancouver, and during that time Dom Dwyer has been great, including a beautiful effort against the Whitecaps. The question for both teams is whether or not they have another gear - can they continue to improve?
Both teams employ a 4-3-3, though in different strategies. SKC continue the high-press system that Peter Vermes instilled during their MLS Cup-winning season in 2013, while TFC's strength thus far has been in their flexibility, with the wingers putting in good defensive work and the back four staying relatively flat, absorbing pressure, and hitting long, counter-attacking passes to Giovinco. This game, however, could be different.
With Altidore set to feature - possibly from the start - expect this to appear on the field at some point. Employing Giovinco on the left side doesn't get the most out of him, but he'll pinch in tight, combine with Altidore, and create a real problem for SKC's right back. Having Altidore also gives them an option for the long, pressure relieving ball. If he can stay high and receive passes from Michael Bradley and Will Johnson, TFC's attack will have a good starting point.
The problem with that, of course, is that the 4-3-3 in the previous two games required wingers to put in a fair bit of defensive work. I don't want to claim that Giovinco, if played on the left, won't do any defensive work. It does seem likely, though, that Justin Morrow will have a busy evening with Graham Zusi charging down the right flank.
The matchup for Sunday's game is a tough one, and the Reds will need to put forward a strong effort to get a result. I think that Altidore's introduction will complicate things more than it will improve them, but its important to get him on the field and start working out the kinks early. If the Reds can take a point or three from SKC, they're on 5 or 7 points out of their stated goal of 8 from 8. I'm impressed with what Greg Vanney has done with the Reds thus far, and I'm excited to see it continue. Prediction: 2-1 SKC.
The game is at 7pm Sunday night, and you can catch it on TSN2