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Predicting Toronto FC’s lineup against D.C. United

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More tinkering with the back three?

MLS: D.C. United at Toronto FC Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto FC are back on the road this weekend, paying a visit to last-place D.C. United. The Reds are riding a high, still atop the Supporters’ Shield standings after beating New York City FC. D.C., on the other hand, were on the opposite end of a 4-0 game last week, routed by the mighty Minnesota United.

Now that TFC have most of their midweek fixtures behind them, Greg Vanney can start figuring out what his first-choice starting eleven is. Against a struggling side like United, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him experiment a little, even though it’s a road game.

Goalkeeper

Alex Bono

This team’s number one, for the foreseeable future.

Defence

Chris Mavinga, Drew Moor, Nick Hagglund

I think Vanney’s going to give every possible combination of the four centre-backs a try in the next couple months. It’s an extremely tough decision to pick one to sit out, so seeing which group meshes best is important.

Eriq Zavaleta is the only one who hasn’t really had a break in the last few weeks, so he might be the one who gets Saturday off. Mavinga made himself almost undroppable in the NYCFC match with his game-saving tackle on Maxi Moralez, and I think he’s probably part of the best back three.

It’s also good for Hagglund to continue to get his legs under him after a lengthy injury. He’s looked great so far, even in his short outing at wingback on Sunday, but he probably still has rust to shake off.

Midfield

Raheem Edwards, Victor Vazquez, Michael Bradley, Marky Delgado, Justin Morrow

TFC didn’t start with this midfield (which I predicted) on Sunday, but they did play with it for a while. I do think it makes much more sense for Morrow to play the right side rather than Edward, though; he’s got more experience on his off foot. Morrow did go off hurt against NYC, but according to Vanney that was just cramping from the heat, and he should be fine.

I’m pretty confident that if TFC were to play an MLS Cup Final today, this is the midfield they’d go with (in Steven Beitashour’s absence). The middle three have come together extremely well, and will definitely outclass D.C.’s.

Forward

Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore

Things are back as they should be this week, with Seba winning MLS Player of the Week honours. He was phenomenal last Sunday, heavily involved in all four goals and making a pretty firm statement against his challenger to the title of league’s best player. Everyone’s happier when Giovinco is on form; hopefully he can continue that this weekend.

Altidore was a little quieter against NYC, although he did score that penalty excellently. Last time out against D.C., he and Giovinco combined for a beautiful goal that they’d be happy to recreate this weekend.

Projected Starting XI: