Perhaps the toughest stretch of the season for Toronto FC begins today against the Seattle Sounders at BMO Field. While much was made about how tough Toronto's season-opening road trip was at least they essentially had all of their players available.
Yesterday was a dark day for club news, as it was confirmed that both Will Johnson and Michael Bradley will be out for around six weeks. They join Jozy Altidore and Clint Irwin on the long-term injury list. Daniel Lovitz and Ashtone Morgan are also injured, while Josh Williams is suspended.
That's a tough set of circumstances for Greg Vanney's crew, especially with the fact that they could really use a good run of results right now. Toronto FC currently sits 7th in the Eastern Conference, one spot out the playoffs, as the halfway point of the MLS season nears.
However, if there was ever a team to face in a game today where Toronto could really use a win to boost confidence, the Sounders are a pretty ideal opponent. A team who has rarely skipped a beat since joining Major League Soccer, Seattle has really struggled this season and sit 9th in the Western Conference.
More importantly, they have really struggled on the road this season, with only one win on the road so far this season. They have only collected four points on the road all season in seven away matches. For what it's worth, however, the Sounders have only lost once in their history in Toronto.
A big reason for Seattle's poor road form, and poor season in general, is the club's league-worst offence. Their backline has been good, one of the league's best in fact, but they can't seem to put the ball in the back of the net. Rookie Jordan Morris has been decent, with five goals, but is the only player on the team with more than 2 goals to his name.
That will suit Toronto FC just fine, as they try to protect rookie goalkeeper Alex Bono, who is likely to get the start again today, and try to figure out offensive issues of their own. Bono was solid against the Vancouver Whitecaps during Wednesday's Canadian Championship final, but Toronto will still want to make his home debut as easy as possible.
On the other side of the ball, Sebastian Giovinco seems to be getting increasingly frustrated with his rookie strike partners. Both Mo Babouli, and especially Jordan Hamilton from a goal scoring standpoint, have done well with their opportunities. However, neither is anywhere near the quality of Jozy Altidore, and both have failed to fully mesh with the atomic ant.
It is the midfield, however, where things get most interesting for Toronto. With Johnson and Bradley both out, Toronto will have to lean on some inexperienced players in order to get the job done. This is especially true if Benoit Cheyrou takes a well-deserved rest after being a constant in the Toronto lineup the past few weeks.
This is prime time for a player like Jonathan Osorio, who has had an up and down season, to step up and take a leadership role while many of the team's leaders are away. He had an excellent game last Saturday against Orlando, setting up two goals. That sort of creativity is much needed for Toronto right now.
Due to injury news, Toronto FC will come into this game limping. But a win would really be a big crutch for them as they try to navigate the next couple of weeks without some of their key players.
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