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Predicting Toronto FC’s lineup against the Chicago Fire

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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

MLS: New York City FC at Toronto FC John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto FC’s performance against NYCFC was absolutely atrocious. With every player in red playing as poorly as they did, it gave me flashbacks of the Indepediente game. Especially that new guy. Just terrible.

In all seriousness, that game against NYCFC was probably the most enjoyable Toronto FC game to watch since the 2018 Champions League run, and was an impressive performance all around, especially from Pozuelo, who dominated in his MLS debut.

The game was also my first 11/11 prediction of the season, so my original plan was to just put out the exact same starters. They were all certainly deserving of another start, but after an injury to Auro, I had to make some changes to my team.

Goalkeeper

Alex Bono

Against NYCFC, Bono picked up his third win in as many matches to start the 2019 MLS campaign. He made three saves in the victory, and looked better with his distribution of the ball, earning his first clean sheet of the year.

He can actually tie the club record for clean sheets if he can get one against the Fire on Saturday.

Defence

Nick DeLeon, Drew Moor, Chris Mavinga, Justin Morrow

As I mentioned at the top of this article, Toronto FC have been dealing with an injury, as Auro is set to miss Saturday’s game with a hamstring problem. This is what threw the wrench in my plan of putting out the same starting XI as last week.

The solution in my mind is to drop Nick DeLeon back into the right-back position, and replace Auro with a winger higher up the pitch. As a member of the #FreeEndoh movement, I wanted to see him get the start, but after playing for TFC II on Friday night, I think that Ayo Akinola gets the nod, as he was superb in TFC’s win over the Revolution on March 17th.

Justin Morrow has been excellent so far this season, as his offensive performances on the left flank so far are a reminder of what a special wing-back he is. His runs up the pitch, as well as the crosses he has been playing into the box, make him an extremely valuable player in that position, and allows Jonathan Osorio to cut inside and help pull the strings in the middle of the park.

Midfield

Michael Bradley, Marky Delgado, Ayo Akinola, Jonathan Osorio, Alejandro Pozuelo

As mentioned above, the addition of Ayo Akinola to this side is the only change I’ve made from my last lineup prediction. Assuming that Nick DeLeon drops back into a right-back position, Akinola is surely the favourite to get the start on the wing.

Jonathan Osorio was excellent against NYCFC, setting up a pair of goals for his teammates. Osorio was able to push into the middle of the park and play off Alejandro Pozuelo, thanks to Justin Morrow’s presence on the left flank.

Speaking of Alejandro Pozuelo - he had some debut, eh? Two marvelous goals and an impressive assist got worldwide attention, and was an incredible start to what will hopefully be a successful tenure in Toronto.

Forward

Jozy Altidore

Two goals, two games so far for Altidore. After a dramatic late winner against the Revolution, and a tap-in after some impressive dribbling by Pozuelo, Jozy appears to be in midseason form, and seems to have already formed a nice chemistry with Pozo.

He also had the best reaction after Pozuelo’s second goal against NYCFC:


My full starting XI: