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Predicting Toronto FC’s lineup against the Vancouver Whitecaps

Pozuelo is back, but injury concerns remain a factor out west

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Toronto FC Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

The Reds are out west on Friday night, as they head to Vancouver for an all-Canadian match against the Whitecaps.

Although they’ll be helped by the return of Alejandro Pozuelo after he was suspended last week, TFC are dealing with a few injury problems at the moment. Both Michael Bradley and Jonathan Osorio are listed as “Questionable” for this game after missing the San Jose game on Sunday, and Auro is also listed as questionable.


Goalkeeper

Quentin Westberg

Seemingly the starter now, Westberg has been solid, even if the stats don’t necessarily match that statement. He’s given up 12 goals in 7 starts, which isn’t great, but that is partly due to the defensive struggles in front of him. Both of the goals from Sunday’s match can’t really be blamed on him, for example, as the defenders failed to close down Chris Wondolowski, who scored two tap-ins from close range.

Defenders

Auro, Drew Moor, Chris Mavinga, Justin Morrow

Auro is another one of the players listed as "questionable" for Friday's game. If he isn't available, Vanney can always drop Richie Laryea or Nick DeLeon into that right-back position and bring on another midfielder (Jay Chapman, for example).

Otherwise, this is a pretty predictable back four. Laurent Ciman was on the bench on Sunday, and hasn't played for a couple of weeks due to injury, so getting him some minutes might be a good idea, but that could be off the bench.

Midfielders

Liam Fraser, Marky Delgado, Alejandro Pozuelo, Nick DeLeon, Richie Laryea

Both Michael Bradley and Jonathan Osorio were left out of the squad on Sunday and are listed as “questionable” for this one. Bradley has a hamstring problem and Osorio is dealing with hip/ groin issues, so both will have had limited ability to run. With the artificial surface at BC Place, I think Greg Vanney might choose not to risk them, whether that means having them on the bench, or leaving them out of the 18 entirely.

Liam Fraser was excellent in Bradley’s absence, and made a case for him getting more minutes. With the Gold Cup coming up, and Bradley/ Osorio/ Noble Okello all going away with their national teams, Fraser is surely penciled in to be the starter, and if he plays like he did against San Jose, the extended minutes will be huge for him. His passing in particular earned him a lot of praise, as well as for being defensively sound.

Richie Laryea scored his first MLS goal last week, and was one of the best players on the pitch. He’s been good on the right wing, and has made the most of his opportunities thus far, so Greg Vanney should continue to play him while he’s in good form.

Forward

Jozy Altidore

Jozy struggled to really have an impact on Sunday without Alejandro Pozuelo, and didn’t look ready to play 90 minutes yet (he hadn’t started since April 19th vs Minnesota). With the return of Pozuelo this week, he will likely have more chances to get involved in this match, and try to get back to the scoring pace he was on at the start of the season.


My full starting XI: