The Headliner: Starting on the Front Foot
It hasn't been an easy start to the season for Toronto FC. Injuries and suspension to star players have caused the team to play short-staffed at times. There have been dubious refereeing decisions that have debatably cost the team points as well. More concerning, however, is the team shooting themselves in the foot.
With the exception of their first game of the season, Toronto FC has allowed the opponent to score the first goal in every game. They have been able to fight back and tie twice, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that this isn't a sustainable way to win games. This is especially true on the road, where there is no crowd to help build momentum.
If Toronto FC wants to get a point, preferably three, against D.C. United today they are going to have to start strong. This means Clint Irwin shouldn't have to make a game-saving stop minutes into the game like he did last week against the New England Revolution. It means after a half-hour they can't be trailing.
The club will again be missing some key players this week, as Benoit Cheyrou and Tsubasa Endoh continue to recover from injury. The veteran midfielder, Cheyrou, could be out for multiple weeks according to reports. Endoh is still day-to-day with a contusion but has not recovered enough to play in this match.
Their opponent today, D.C. United, have had mixed results to start the season. At one win, three draws and two losses they sit just one point, and one position, up on Toronto FC in the Eastern Conference standings. The club is fresh off a 4-0 demolishing of the Vancouver Whitecaps last week. However, it was their first win of the season and they scored four of the seven goals they have all year in that match.
Key to the Game: Switching it Up
Toronto FC is expected to try out a new formation to start this game, after playing 4-3-3 for most of the season. This would see Will Johnson and Michael Bradley both play as deep lying midfielders in front of the backline. The wide midfielders will both push higher trying to create offense.
Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore will play up top, with the possibility that Giovinco drops behind Altidore to playing a sort of attacking midfielder. This happened to some degree last game, with Giovinco appearing to become frustrated at the lack of service he was receiving.
Whether or not these changes work remains to be seen. Toronto tried new tactics last week against New England but was ultimately forced to change them after being dominated in the first half. The club will be hoping there is less error in their trial this time around.
Toronto FC: Irwin; Morrow, Moor, Williams, Beitashour; Osorio, Bradley, Johnson, Delgado; Giovinco, Altidore
Subs: Roberts, Perquis, Morgan, Chapman, Lovitz, Bloom, Babouli
Location: RFK Stadium, Washington D.C.
Kick-off time: 5:00 PM Eastern
SB Nation OPPOSITION Blog: Black and Red United
Available streaming: TSN Go
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