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Match Preview: Toronto FC look to clinch a playoff berth vs. FC Cincinnati

The Reds are in Ohio where a win would secure their spot in the postseason.

Toronto FC goalkeeper Quentin Westberg against FC Cincinnati last season.

TORONTO, Canada— Toronto FC head into Ohio in fine form where they will take on FC Cincinnati for just the third time in MLS action.

The Reds land in Cinci looking to make it seven straight matches undefeated as their hot streak has them in the driver’s seat for the Supporters Shield and a win away from returning to the MLS Cup Playoffs.

TFC is coming off a tough 1-0 result away to the New England Revolution thanks to yet another Ayo Akinola bulldozing run and finish. The 20-year-old prospective Canadian international has been a revelation up top in place of the oft-injured Jozy Altidore this season.

Cincinnati has struggled in their sophomore season, particularly offensively, scoring just eight times in sixteen matches, an MLS low in that department. They come into this one on a four-game dry spell having been held off the score sheet since their 1-0 win over the New York Red Bulls back on September 19th.

Greg Vanney will once again be without the services of a trio of key veterans in Altidore, Michael Bradley, and Justin Morrow. While Morrow and Bradley appear to be progressing toward match fitness in the near future, the news on Altidore is a lot less encouraging, albeit not shocking at this point in time.

For Cincinnati, the story is much the same as three squad members in Siem De Jong, Andrew Gutman, and Jimmy McLaughlin have been sidelined with injury. Former TFC defender Nick Hagglund has also been out of action for the past few weeks after testing positive for COVID-19. The 28-year-old Ohio native made 88 appearances for the Reds in a five year spell with the club.

After playing on the artificial surface at Gillette Stadium midweek, TFC are once again back on the turf at Nippert Stadium on Sunday. While squad rotation is very likely given the congested fixture list Toronto faces moving forward, the group is ensuring they don’t dismiss their opponent despite their place in the standings.

In their previous two MLS clashes, TFC is a perfect two for two against the Orange and Blue. A 2-1 win at BMO Field last July was followed up with a 5-1 road victory in the reverse fixture in September.

For the trilogy match, It’s a battle between two sides with very different motives. For Toronto, anything but three points would be a setback in their quest to snatch back the Supporters Shield they held in 2017. Conversely, Cinci will be content to just find the back of the net and make some progress in working their way out of the Eastern Conference cellar.

Additional Notes:

  • Ayo Akinola’s winner against the Revs was his eighth goal of the season, tying Alejandro Pozuelo for the team lead despite starting just eight matches to date.
  • FC Cincinnati forward Yuya Kobo is the only player on the squad with more than a single goal scored this season with two in sixteen appearances.