Toronto FC return to action on Saturday evening for an away game against FC Dallas. With the Gold Cup underway, and a pair of important players out through injury, Toronto FC again have a depleted roster.
Both Chris Mavinga and Auro (both hamstring strains) have been listed as “out” by Major League Soccer for this game, and join a lengthy list of players away at the Gold Cup. Noble Okello, Jonathan Osorio, Ashtone Morgan, Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Omar Gonzalez are all at the Gold Cup, so Greg Vanney has some big holes to patch in this one.
One of the solutions for Vanney was to sign winger Jacob Shaffelburg to a first team contract. More on him in a moment.
As I keep saying in these lineup predictions, Alex Bono is due for a start at some point, but after a lengthy break since Toronto FC’s last game, I think Quentin Westberg probably starts this one. Both keepers are well rested and Westberg seems to have taken the starting job, so I think he gets the start, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bono get a start sometime soon.
Nick DeLeon, Drew Moor, Laurent Ciman, Justin Morrow
With an entire backline away from the club at the moment (Mavinga and Auro’s injuries, Morgan and Gonzalez at the Gold Cup), Greg Vanney has to make some changes to his backline.
Nick DeLeon is the only obvious option to fill in at right-back, although Laurent Ciman has played right-back before for the Belgian national team. I think it’ll be DeLeon at right-back with Ciman at centre-back, however, as Ciman is the best central defender available to Vanney for this one.
Liam Fraser, Marky Delgado, Jay Chapman, Alejandro Pozuelo, Jacob Shaffelburg
There’s a lot to like about this midfield. The absences of Jonathan Osorio and Michael Bradley will be noticed, but Liam Fraser has looked excellent in the base of midfield in his last few games. Marky Delgado would help him out defensively, and Alejandro Pozuelo would be in that attacking free role he has been playing.
On the wings in my lineup would be Jay Chapman on the right and Jacob Shaffelburg on the left.
Shaffelburg, just signed to a homegrown deal on Friday, has been excellent for TFC II this season. He is rapid, and is good at both crossing and shooting. I think he has the potential to be a starter every week for TFC, once his game develops a bit further and he gets some first team experience under his belt. He did play 90 minutes for TFC II on Wednesday, which could be a problem, but he’s played two games in a short span on multiple occasions this season.
Shaffelburg and a 16-year-old from North Texas SC called Ricardo Pepi have been the two best forwards in USL League One so far in my opinion, and Pepi was also signed to a first team deal with FC Dallas the other day...— Benedict Rhodes (@BTFR17) June 21, 2019
TFC play FC Dallas tomorrow #TFCLive #DTID https://t.co/ol84VQVmue
With Jozy Altidore away with the USMNT at the Gold Cup, Jordan Hamilton will almost certainly get the start up top. These extended minutes for Hamilton can only be a good thing, and it’s up to him to take his chances.
My full starting XI: