Riding high after a massive 4-1 win over the defending champions, Louisville City FC, in Kentucky on Tuesday, Toronto will be looking to continue the form that has seen them win three of their last six matches.
TFC first team coach Greg Vanney was pleased with what he saw from his vantage point in Portland.
“It was the most professional performance the group has had, especially the second half,” said Vanney. “The most professional our young group has looked in three years.”
“They managed the game well; defensively, dealt with a good team quite well, gave up very few chances. It looked like they were in control of the match and then made some very good plays on the attacking side,” observed Vanney. “Some of the young players grew into the game, which made a difference. Malik [Johnson] was a little quiet and then started to get the ball and eliminate the first defender, as he does so well. The game started to open up in transition for us when he was able to do that. Tsubasa [Endoh] has continued to add quality to that team and experience; made some great decisions.”
“The team is getting better,” noted Vanney. “The young players are showing real growth in professionalism and understanding, managing the game. It’s great for their confidence and belief in what they are doing to go to the champions and get a result like that.”
“It shows this team is making progress,” added Vanney. “Three wins in their last [six] matches is real progress, some of those games on the road, in tough places. Pleased with the direction they’re taking right now.”
Central to the turn of form has been the addition of Endoh, who scored a brace on Tuesday and set up another in the victory.
In five matches, Endoh has scored three goals – one shy of the team lead, shared by Jordan Hamilton and Ayo Akinola – and an assist. He spoke to the media for the first time since returning to the club on Thursday:
As did TFC II coach Michael Rabasca:
Finally back home at Lamport after almost two months have passed since the rollicking 3-3 draw against FC Cincinnati on June 27 – they have had home matches at BMO Field and in Rochester in the interim – TFC II will welcome Atlanta United 2 to town for an interesting clash.
Scott Donnelly has Atlanta a spot above Toronto in the Eastern Conference standings on seventeen points from 24 matches, five points ahead of TFC II, with a record of three wins, thirteen losses, and eight draws.
Atlanta enters on a seven-match winless skid, though most recently they drew 1-1 on Saturday against Indy Eleven at Coolray Field in Atlanta.
Much like TFC II, Atlanta has struggled to find results away from home. Unlike TFC II though, through fourteen matches, they remain winless on their travels, having lost eleven matches and drawn three.
They have lost their last three on the road, including a 1-0 defeat against the Charleston Battery, a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Bethlehem Steel FC, and a 1-0 loss against Nashville SC.
If any team knows that one should never take an opponent lightly, regardless of their record, it is Toronto FC II.
And who can forget that wild meeting between the two sides on May 16: a nine-goal thriller that ended 5-4 in Atlanta’s favour.
As Toronto has seen, Atlanta has some firepower in their side.
Jon Gallagher leads the side with six goals in 22 matches, while Brandon Vazquez, Mikey Ambrose, and Laurent Kissiedou have each added two goals in five, six, and sixteen matches, respectively. A trio of players – AJ Cochran, Lagos Kunga, and Gallagher – have each chipped in two assists.
Head down to Lamport to take in the action – kickoff is at 8 p.m.
And if you can’t make it, the match will be streamed on YouTube: