The Headliner: Finishing the Road Trip the Right Way
Barring utter disaster today, Toronto FC's season-opening road trip has been a success. With 11 points, just five goals conceded and fresh off of a 2-0 win against the Montreal Impact, Toronto FC looks like one of the league's top teams.
That is a conversation they could cement themselves in should they be able to collect points in Portland, and the reason why this final match of the road swing is so important. This is the match that can turn what has been a good road trip for Toronto FC into one that is considered great.
Most fans would have been at least content with eight points collected from the opening matches. Getting almost double that at 14 is more than even the most optimistic supporters would have predicted. Not only that, but a win would see the club return home to Toronto in first place in the Eastern Conference.
In order to do so, they will have to beat the defending MLS Cup champions at home: the Portland Timbers. However, this year's Timbers do not look like the side that claimed glory in last year's playoffs. They have won only twice so far this year and currently sit ninth in the Western Conference.
They will also have some jet lag of their own when the two team's face off today. In fact, Toronto FC arrived in Portland before the home team. The Timbers were away playing the New England Revolution on Wednesday, a match that saw them draw 1-1.
Key to the Game: Replacing Osorio
Toronto FC has not needed to make many roster adjustments so far this season, something that has certainly contributed to their success. However, a week after everything seemed to be firing on all cylinders against the Montreal Impact, TFC will have to make a change to their starting eleven.
Jonathan Osorio suffered a rolled ankle in training and will not be available for the match. The timing of this is unfortunate, as against Montreal Osorio played his best match of the season and was a vital part of the team's attack. Combined with a previous injury to Benoit Cheyrou, and Greg Vanney will have some tinkering to do with his midfield.
Whomever, or however, Toronto choose to replace Osorio in the lineup will prove to be crucial in terms of how the match plays out. The most obvious like-for-like replacement in the highly successful 4-4-2 diamond the club played last week would be Jay Chapman. The young Canadian was called up from Toronto FC II earlier this week.
However, the club could also choose to revert to the 4-3-3 they were playing at the start of the season. In this case, one of Daniel Lovitz, Tsubasa Endoh or Mo Babouli would be a more likely replacement.
Toronto FC: Irwin; Morrow, Moor, Perquis, Beitashour; Endoh, Johnson, Bradley, Delgado; Giovinco, Altidore
Subs: Roberts, Bloom, Zavaleta, Williams, Chapman, Lovitz, Babouli
Portland Timbers: Gleeson, Valentin, Borchers, Ridgewell, Klute, Chara, Nagbe, Valeri, Melano, Adi, Mattocks
Location: Providence Park, Portland, Oregon
Kick-off time: 3:30 PM Eastern
SB Nation OPPOSITION Blog: Stumptown Footy
Available TV: TSN4
Available Streaming: TSN Go
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