Toronto FC return home tonight in must-win mode to play a strong Atlanta United side at BMO Field.
They are winless in eight matches, a streak that started on May 8th... in Atlanta. They need to turn their season around, so a positive result against a division rival could be huge for them, especially with the tough games coming up over the next few weeks.
Greg Vanney’s options are still limited because of the Gold Cup/ injuries, so the lineup may look pretty similar to what we saw in Dallas on Saturday night.
Alex Bono’s last appearance was in the game that started this eight-game winless run, in Atlanta on May 8th. That means that Quentin Westberg has been between the sticks for the last seven, although those poor results are mostly due to a combination of poor defending and a lack of goals being scored at the other end. Bono wasn’t even on the bench in Dallas (he was replaced by Caleb Patterson-Sewell) due to a knock in training. He isn’t listed on the MLS injury report, so I am assuming he is available for this game, and I hope he gets a chance to prove himself soon.
Quentin Westberg, despite losing 3-0, saved his teammates on multiple occasions, and made some excellent saves on Saturday night, earning MLS Team of the Week honours for his efforts. For that reason, I imagine he’ll get the start in this one, and that we’ll see Bono get a start in one of the upcoming games.
Justin Morrow, Laurent Ciman, Drew Moor, Richie Laryea
With both Chris Mavinga and Auro listed as “questionable” for this one, I think it’s safe to say they won’t be risked in a midweek game, and will be out until the weekend at the least.
With that in mind, I’ve selected pretty much exactly the same defenders that started in Dallas. Eriq Zavaleta falls to the bench for tactical reasons, as I’ve done this lineup in a 4-3-3 formation rather than the 5-4-1 played on Saturday.
Ashton Morgan and Omar Gonzalez would have seen minutes in this game, or over this busy stretch, but are both at the Gold Cup.
Toronto FC’s defenders are helped by the fact that Ezequiel Barco is out through injury, as are Hector Villalba, Kevin Kratz and George Bello. Josef Martinez will also be unavailable as he is on international duty.
Liam Fraser, Marky Delgado, Alejandro Pozuelo
Fans were surprised to see recently-named MLS All-Star Alejandro Pozuelo start the game on the bench on Saturday, especially after a two-week break. He has just come off a full season playing in Belgium, so he will have to see reduced minutes at some point this season to stay fresh, but after a break like that, most people expected him to be ready to go.
Nick DeLeon, Jay Chapman, Jordan Hamilton
The 4-3-3 is a more attack-minded formation than the 4-5-1 Greg Vanney played on Saturday. They were held off the scoresheet in four of the eight games in this streak, and will need to create more scoring chances if they are to finally end this streak.
Jacob Shaffelburg came off the bench for his first MLS appearance, and could start this one to give other guys some rest, but I think he’ll come off the bench again to provide a spark late in the game.
My full starting XI: