The Gold Cup could not have come at a worse time for Toronto FC. Winless in six games, the Reds are in the middle of their worst spell of the season, and have lost a few of their key players to the Gold Cup.
Jonathan Osorio, Ashtone Morgan, Noble Okello, Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, and the recently-signed Omar Gonzalez are all with their national teams. This leaves some starting spots open throughout the pitch, allowing some bench players to get some increased minutes.
Although I think it’s time for Alex Bono to get another chance, I think Westberg will get the start. Vanney has used him for the last five matches, and he’s had time to rest since his last game, so I think he probably gets the nod again.
Bono hasn’t played since May 8th against Atlanta United, when he wasn’t at fault for either of the two goals that gave Atlanta a 2-0 lead,the game that started this winless streak.
Richie Laryea, Drew Moor, Laurent Ciman, Justin Morrow
Toronto FC haven’t lost any starting defenders to the Gold Cup, but their backup left-back Ashtone Morgan is away with Canada. Auro is listed as “out” of Friday’s game with a hamstring injury, and Chris Mavinga has an “undisclosed injury” after a tackle against Vancouver.
That opens the door for Laurent Ciman and Richie Laryea to get a start. Alternatively, Vanney could play Ciman at right-back and Eriq Zavaleta beside Drew Moor, but I think he probably wants to keep Laryea in the lineup after some strong offensive performances recently.
Liam Fraser, Marky Delgado, Jay Chapman, Nick DeLeon
Liam Fraser was superb against Vancouver, and was the man of the match in the eyes of many. He looks like he’s ready to start getting some serious minutes with Toronto FC, and with Michael Bradley away on international duty, will almost certainly see the majority of the minutes in that defensive midfield role.
Without Jonathan Osorio, Jay Chapman might finally get some playing time. He’s surely frustrated at his lack of playing time, having mostly been limited to bench minutes this season. In 12 games this season, Chapman has only started twice, but has managed to pick up two goals in his 324 minutes.
Jordan Hamilton, Alejandro Pozuelo
Without Jozy Altidore, Jordan Hamilton will likely see a lot of the minutes up top. Terrence Boyd was poor against Vancouver, so I don’t think he starts again on Friday, but he’ll likely be in the 18.
Alejandro Pozuelo has been playing in a free role, as Greg Vanney has allowed him to go wherever he wants to pull the attacking strings. I’ve listed him as a starter because he’ll likely play higher up the pitch than usual in order to help out Jordan Hamilton.
My full starting XI: