When Toronto FC fans saw the lineup for Wednesday’s game against Atlanta United, they were less than impressed.
Without a natural striker on the pitch at any point in the match, there was uncertainty about where the goals were going to come from, but they ended up finding three of them to earn a much-needed victory.
Jacob Shaffelburg was superb in his first MLS start, picking up his first career assist and winning Man of the Match honours. His teammates seemed to really embrace him as well, and all ran straight to him after he assisted Alejandro Pozuelo’s first goal of the game.
I’ve lined up my predicted lineup in a similar formation to the one Greg Vanney used on Wednesday, but I’m calling mine a 4-2-3-1.
Quentin Westberg has started 9 games in a row since seemingly stealing Alex Bono's starting job. Despite what his stats say, he's been really good for TFC, making some incredible saves and keeping his side in some games. Even when Toronto lost 3-0 to FC Dallas on Saturday, he was still named in the Team of the Week.
Despite Westberg's good form, Alex Bono hasn't played in nearly two months. It would be best to give him some minutes sooner rather than later before his confidence is completely gone.
Justin Morrow, Chris Mavinga, Laurent Ciman, Richie Laryea
Drew Moor caught the hamstring strain bug last week, becoming the third TFC defender with the injury. He's ruled out of Saturday's game, but the other two, Chris Mavinga and Auro, are listed as "probable." Richie Laryea was good on Wednesday, so I think Auro will be rested in this game, but if Chris Mavinga is ready to go, he should start, as the TFC centre-backs were poor at times against Atlanta.
Liam Fraser, Marky Delgado, Alejandro Pozuelo, Jay Chapman, Jacob Shaffelburg
Alejandro Pozuelo scored two goals on Wednesday, including the game-winning penalty in the dying stages of the match. He's already played a full European season, so he needs to start being rested more, but against top Eastern Conference opposition, I think he plays.
With Michael Bradley away at the Gold Cup, Liam Fraser has been given an excellent opportunity to get extended minutes and he's made the most of it. He looks comfortable on the ball, and is defensively sound. Greg Vanney will have a hard time keeping him out of the starting lineup when Bradley gets back, which could be bad news for Marky Delgado.
Jay Chapman was the only player brought off the bench on Wednesday, replacing Tsubasa Endoh in the 79th minute. He was kept back from the Gold Cup because TFC thought he'd be better off getting minutes with them rather than sitting on the bench with Canada, so he needs to get those minutes.
Toronto FC didn't play any strikers on Wednesday, so there's a good chance we see one starting on Saturday.
Without Jozy Altidore, who is busy scoring bicycle kicks at the Gold Cup, Jordan Hamilton is likely Greg Vanney's number one option to start. Terrence Boyd is another option, but I think Hamilton would get the start over Boyd due to his pace.
My full starting XI: