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FT: Toronto FC 2-1 Philadelphia Union—Match thread, preview & how to watch

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TFC and the Union battle it out for position atop the Eastern Conference. Questions? Comments? Follow along and chime in with Michael Singh tonight on our live match thread.

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Toronto FC
Philadelphia Union defender Jakob Glesnes (5) and Toronto FC forward Ayo Akinola (20) work for the ball
(Butler II/USA TODAY)

Live Match Thread

FT: Toronto FC 2-1 Philadelphia Union—Massive three points for TFC and an even bigger four points for me in our Prediction League.

90+1—Four minutes of added time to go. TFC are trying to secure their third-straight win, while Philadelphia are trying to extend their unbeaten run to six.

86’—If this stands, it would be Pozuelo’s third-straight game winner. That has to be some kind of record, doesn’t it? Paging Martyn Bailey.

76’—GOAL! Toronto FC 2-1 Philadelphia Union—Who else!? Mr. MVP! Alejandro Pozuelo!!!!!!! The header off the corner! How many different ways does this guy score!?

71’—What beautiful buildup from Toronto FC which ends in Pablo Piatti hitting the side netting. That would’ve been a candidate for Goal of the Year.

67’—Game on. These last 20+ minutes should be a treat. Meaningful Saturday night footy, you love to see it.

58’—GOAL! AYOOOO! Toronto FC 1-1 Philadelphia Union—What a ball in Tony Gallacher! What a ball from Marky Delgado to spring Gallacher! What a finish from Akinola with the header! Here we go. Massive, massive goal for The Reds.

52’—Jozy Altidore has pulled up holding his hamstring. Cool. cool. cool. cool. cool. Nick DeLeon coming in for Jozy.

46’—We’re back. Big second half coming up for the Reds. No changes aside from Justin Morrow coming off injured for Tony Gallacher prior to the end of the first half.

HT: Toronto FC 0-1 Philadelphia Union

45’—Can’t be too upset Toronto over their opening 45, though they still trail by one. Aside from a few words with Omar Gonzalez, what do you say to your team here if your Greg Vanney?

38’—Not a great sight here, as Justin Morrow is down injured holding what appears to be his calf. That’s really unfortunate for the vet, who was looking really good. Former Liverpool U-23 captain Tony Gallacher is preparing to come into the match. Great chance for him to really showcase himself here.

30’—What a strike and an even better save from Quentin Westberg who is also there to stop the rebound. The play was blown down for offside, but an impressive double-save from Q nonetheless.

27’—I know we’re down, but this is some of the best footy I’ve seen from TFC this season. They’re controlling the midfield and every aspect of this game except the scoreboard quite frankly. Great response after conceding that opening goal.

21’—Penalty shout for Richie Laryea, who plays a one-two at the top of the box with Marky Delgado before going down. The ref and his video assistant aren’t having any of it, though.

19’—Poz is having fun. What a ‘Maradona’ spin. That was clean.

16’—Toronto have been the better team by far through 15 minutes, but are behind because of that Omar Gonzalez miscue/Sergio Santos goal.

7’—CHANCE! Chris Mavinga finds himself in a 1v1 against the keeper following a keeper but the centre back can’t finish! Great save by Andre Blake, but he’s probably happy it was Mavinga staring him down as opposed to, well, just about anyone else on the field.

5’—GOAL! Toronto FC 0 - 1 Philadelphia Union: Sergio Santos with a beautiful finish as he chips it over Quentin Westberg after blowing by Omar Gonzalez. Not a great start for TFC...

1’—Players take a knee before kickoff in protest against racial injustice and we’re off. Come on you Reds.

7:25 p.m. EST—Love the Poz feature on TSN and love the coverage he is getting. He really is making a push towards the MVP award. A busy October gets started in just a few minutes...

7:09 p.m. EST—Some pregame content for any of you waiting for kickoff:

Rested and Reinvigorated Alejandro Pozuelo is having an MVP-calibre season for Toronto FC (via Mitchell Tierney)
By The Numbers: Why Quentin Westberg is still the Toronto FC No. 1 moving forward (via Martyn Bailey Yours Truly)

7:01 p.m. EST—As usual, friendly reminder to leave your guesses for tonight’s final scoreline in our prediction league. Your boy is near the top, but can’t afford to drop too many points the rest of the way!

6:48 p.m. EST—This could be the first time since I joined WTR that we’ve gone back-to-back 11-for-11 for predicting the starting XI. This is a monumental day, and I’m really happy that all of you could be here to enjoy it with us. Side note: tonight’s game should also be a cracker. Two of the hottest teams in the league going at it. TFC were No. 3 on this week’s power rankings while Philadelphia were No. 2. It doesn’t get much better than that.

6:30 p.m. EST—No better feeling than today: it’s game day! Toronto FC take on the second-place Philadelphia Union with kickoff in about an hour. If any one called last week’s 3-1 win over the first-place Columbus Crew SC a fluke, then the Reds will have a real chance tonight to not only silence those critics, but also earn valuable points in their search for a Supporters Shield. Come on you Reds.


STARTING XI

Here’s how Toronto FC line up tonight. Let’s hope it’s how they did in the second half, not the first half though.

Philadelphia’s Starting XI vs. Toronto. That’s scary.


PREVIEW (Courtesy Aasim Hashim)

TORONTO, Ont.—Toronto FC will begin the final phase of a stop-and-start 2020 regular season on Saturday as they welcome the Philadephia Union to their adopted home in East Hartford. Kick-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST.

With nine games left, it’s now the business end of the MLS regular season. With all remaining games against Eastern Conference opponents, the chance to secure the East is there for the taking. How much home-field advantage will matter in this year’s playoffs is up for debate, but none-the-less finishing on a high will be a great confidence boost for this Toronto squad heading into the playoffs.

Against Columbus, it was a tale of two halves. It was a completely different TFC team that showed up in the second half last week to put the league leaders, Columbus Crew, away. Richie Laryea was a big reason for how the Toronto offence produced goals, including his incredible solo goal when he added TFC’s third of the night. Prior to that Laryea provided the assist for Alejandro Pozuelo’s game-winning goal. Coming off of his Team of the Week performance, it should be no surprise when Greg Vanney picks Laryea to control the right flank for TFC once again.

In midfield, Alejandro Pozuelo continues to be the player TFC needs him to be. After another stunning display against Columbus where the Spaniard picked up another goal and assist, Pozuelo has now scored four times in the Reds’ last five outings, and in three games in a row. His contribution earned him the MLS Player of the Month award in September.

It can’t be understated how important Pozuelo is to TFC’s attack. With Jozy Altidore and Ayo Akinola now fit, and Vanney having opted to play both strikers together in TFC’s last two games, having more familiarity will only mean a much more cohesive offence as we saw in the second half last week.

The need for familiarity will need to be balanced with the right rotation in this final phase, however. Over the course of the next two weeks, Toronto is scheduled to play every three or four days. We’ve seen this Toronto squad struggle when Vanney has had to call on his depth players. With the Eastern Conference and the Supporters’ Shield race being as tight as it is, there will be little room for error over the next couple of weeks. How Vanney manages that, and how healthy TFC come away from this period may determine how far the Reds can go this year.

Just as last week, Greg Vanney will need to prepare his team for another in-form squad. Philadelphia, who are currently ahead of Toronto on goal difference, are unbeaten in their last four games (4-1-0).

The Union and TFC have near identical records. Both teams boast an 8-2-4 record this season and have scored 24 goals apiece. Philadelphia has been marginally better behind the ball, giving up just 11 goals to TFC’s 15.

But that’s where the similarities end. The Union will happy to cede possession to the Reds, but will be looking to hit them on the counter-attack at every opportunity they get so TFC’s transition game will need to be extremely effective, breaking up the Union’s attacks.

Additional Notes

  • Last week’s stellar performances from Larayea and Vanney, earned both a spot on the MLS Team of the week!
  • Pozuelo’s great September not only earned him the MLS Player of the Month but is making a great case to be MLS MVP. Pozuelo has scored six goals this year and leads the league in assists with nine.
  • A win for the Reds would give them the advantage over the Union and propel them into second, but if results go TFC’s way, the Reds could end the weekend sitting atop the Eastern Conference.

WTR PREDICTED STARTING XI

We’re predicting no changes from that second-half side that scored three against Columbus.


HOW TO WATCH

Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. EST tonight and those in Canada can watch on TSN 1/4 or stream it across all TSN digital platforms.

Who: Philadelphia Union
When: Saturday, October 3, 7:30 PM ET
Where: Rentschler Field, Connecticut
TV: TSN 1/4
Radio: TSN 1050