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FT: Toronto FC 1-1 LAFC — Lineup predictions, preview, and game thread

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Follow along live with us as Toronto FC travels out West to take on MLS-leading LAFC

Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley with the ball during his team’s first encounter with LAFC at BMO Field
(Tagwa Moyo/Waking the Red)

Game Thread

FT: TOR 1 — 1 LAFC: The Reds officially clinch.

90+5 — GOAL! Vela! 1-1... no words.

90+3 — That’s a penalty all day. God Mavinga....

90’ — Laryea suspended for next week against Chicago. S/o TFC’s fullback depth

89’ — Almost there...

84’ — S/o WTR’s Martyn Bailey for the stats!

78’ — Vanney making some subs ahead of Wednesday’s match. Pozuelo off. Auro now signalling for a change after Vanney was going to take off Jozy. Auro indeed comes off.

73’ — What a tackle by Gonzalez after a great pass by MAK

72’ — Dangerous FK given up for the Reds... Atuesta goes down easy. Westberg cleans up the mess after a poor FK.

70’ — TFC on the verge of clinching.... they’ve pretty much parked the bus. DeLeon coming in for Endoh.

68’ — Oh man. Hope Auro isn’t injured. He’s playing through it. Tough kid.

67’ — Toronto FC holding on defensively. Seeing this one out would be a statement. Playoff berth can be clinched with a win

65’ — That LAFC supporters group is bumping not gonna lie. Remember the OG TFC days....

63’ — Pozuelo showing why he got that 78 pace in FIFA. Good backtracking before though

59’ — Another Endoh chance. Great play to create the opportunity again

58’ — Richie playing well too. Fullbacks are deeeeeep

56’ — Fun fact: I played against MAK a bunch growing up. Great to see him make it

54’ — Good play by Pozuelo to release Auro down the left-hand side again. The Brazilian delivers a delicious ball into the middle but Altidore can’t get a shot off.

53’ — Vela’s quality starting to show here — causing a bunch of problems here for the Reds. I think LAFC missed their #99 in the first half, but are starting to settle in

50’ — First real bit of Vela magic we’ve seen. It’s been all LA since the break

48’ — IMPORTANT UPDATE: Pozuelo with a meg.

47’ — Something tells me we’re going to see a different LAFC side this half. Reds dodge the repercussions of conceding a dangerous FK

46’ — We’re back. Beitashour off for the visitors... he struggled against his former team tonight.

HT: 1-0 TFC. Who has been the best TFC player this half? Endoh? Auro? Marky Delgado? A lot of options to choose from.... let’s see if they can keep it up and clinch a playoff spot

41’ — Yikes. Mavinga.... Vela misses before the TFC takes him out. Then he recovers after Rodriguez gets behind him. Let’s go, finish the half strong.

37’ — For the people in the back... Michael Bradley is in-form!!!!

36’ — Auro got away with that handball lol

35’ — That Montreal-LA Galaxy update >>>>> Ibra baby!

33’ — Goal! LAFC! But it’s called back for offside.... and it wasn’t close. Keep it up Reds

32’ — Westberg, you awake? Comfortable save for the TFC keeper

31’ — Markyyyyyy. This is fun. Reds come close again

28’ — LAFC playing off Endoh? Acres of space on that left side

26’ — This is a combination of TFC playing really well and LAFC absolutely sucking. Corner coming up for the Reds after another bad giveaway

25’ — Endoh with another chance. He’s buzzing. What an “add” he’s been of late.

23’ — Ew. Auro Jr. with the meg down the line. Sets up Pozuelo for a half chance, but he has no end-product this time.

21’ — The Reds smelled blood tonight. Wow, credit to Vanney. Great 20 minutes.

19’ GOAL! ENDOH! 1-0 Toronto! TFC TAKES ADVANTAGE!!! What a move. Great finish. MAK sloppy giving the ball away, but TFC capitalize.

16’ — Pozuelo can’t get over it. TFC needs to take advantage of their momentum rn... I don’t think LAFC will be this bad for this long

15’ — Positive play for the Reds in this tough away fixture. Dangerous FK coming up...

12’ — Okay, we’re back. I like the confident start for the Reds... Bradley playing with purpose?

1’ — And we’re off.

10:29 pm — Thread will be back in a moment. Let’s start positive

10:17 p.m. — Anyone else scoreboard watching tonight??

10:15 p.m. — Not gonna lie, pretty excited to watch Carlos Vela tonight

10:08 p.m. — The Reds going for three points tonight. They smell blood out West

10 p.m. EST — About 30 minutes until kickoff... shout out to the real ones that are staying up to watch this one... the Reds can clinch tonight


Starting XI

The Reds starting strong tonight. Our predicted starting XI was close...

The visitors also bring the heat... MAK’s debut against the Reds


Preview

How important is earning home-field advantage in the MLS playoffs for Toronto FC after last year’s disappointing campaign? Is it more important than qualifying for the Concacaf Champions League by virtue of winning a fourth consecutive Voyageurs Cup? Can the Reds accomplish both?

These are all questions Toronto FC head coach Greg Vanney has to ask himself as the Reds are in the midst of their busiest stretch of the season.

Saturday in Los Angeles will mark Toronto’s sixth match in roughly three weeks — and it doesn’t get easier with a midweek second-leg fixture against the Montreal Impact on Wednesday at BMO Field for the Canadian Championship.

It also doesn’t help that the Reds will be taking on an almost healthy LAFC side, who are putting together a historic campaign in MLS. Despite dropping points in their last four matches, the 2018 expansion side, coached by Michael Bradley’s father, Bob Bradley, is on pace to break the record for most points in an MLS season, set by Toronto FC in 2017 before it was beaten in 2018 by both the NY Red Bulls and Atlanta United FC.

But LAFC have struggled recently, earning just three out of a possible 12 points. Which means, and this is something Vanney and co. has to weigh out, now may be an opportune time for a hungry group of Reds, who are unbeaten in their last seven MLS games, to march into Banc of California Stadium and steal three points.

If they do, Toronto FC would officially clinch a playoff berth for the fourth time in five seasons.

But with Wednesday’s crucial Voyageurs Cup fixture on the horizon, could this one of those games you can chalk up to as a “scheduled loss”? Coach Vanney has been adamant, aside from a Nicolas Benezet injury, that his side is rested, hungry, and ready to go.

We’ll see if that means — unlike Montreal — he plays for the win and puts on his best XI tonight.

Last season, in their only ever meeting, LAFC topped Toronto FC 4-2, with Jozy Altidore notching both goals for the Reds while Carlos Vela scored twice for L.A..


Predicted starting XI

As mentioned above, coach Vanney has been holding his cards close to his chest this week, providing little insight into what his possible lineup Saturday night could be. With Wednesday’s crucial second-leg fixture in mind, do the Reds take a reserved approach tonight? We don’t think so. Here’s our predicted starting XI:

WTR’s Predicted Starting XI vs. LAFC
Jeffrey P. Nesker