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FT: Toronto FC 2-2 D.C. United—Match thread, starting lineups, and how to watch

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Follow along and chime in with Michael Singh as the Reds MAY finally be back in action after a rather lengthy hiatus.

Toronto FC v DC United - MLS Is Back Tournament
Chris Mavinga and Marky Delgado react to a play by Junior Moreno #5 of D.C. United in the first half during a match in the MLS Is Back Tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on July 13, 2020 in Reunion, Florida.
(Chinn/Getty)

Match Thread

FT: Same old Toronto FC. 2-2 Final. Michael Bradley exchanging words with a few D.C. United players after the final whistle.

90+6—Akinola with a last-second chance! His header, looping into the far corner, is clawed away by GK Hamid.

90+2—GOAL! Toronto FC 2-2 D.C. United.

88’—Everything is fine, right?

84’—GOAL! Toronto FC 2 - 1 D.C. United — Player-manager Frederico Higuain comes on, gets in behind Zavaleta and Ciman, and scoops it over Westberg. We have a game...

81’—I’m really surprised not to see any of the kids come on. I guess you need to get the veterans minutes first, but damn. Seemed like the perfect opportunity.

77’—Nick DeLeon comes on for Alejandro Pozuelo. Great to see Nick on the field for the first time in 2020. That’ll be all of Toronto FC’s subs (5) today.

73’—Pablo Piatti plays 73 minutes in his debut for the club. He was solid today. TAM-signing Erickson Gallardo checks into the match for TFC’s new No. 7. How’s that for depth?

71’—That’s a dangerous tackle. Very dirty. Felipe gets a yellow after leaving his feet to slide in, while Akinola limps away.

69’—We want one more!!

65’—Ciman and Zavaleta come on for Mavinga and Gonzalez. That’s Zavaleta’s 100th appearance for the club.

60’—With D.C. United a man down, TFC have sucked the life out of this match. D.C. make some subs with the hope of finding a much-needed spark.

54’—I’d imagine that we’ll be seeing a few of the youngsters here at some point.

48’—Pablo’s starting to dance. This is going to be a long 45 mins for D.C.

46’—We’re back. This half could get messy for D.C. United. Super-sub Richie Laryea comes on for Justin Morrow (Auro will play down the left).

HT: TFC 2 - 0 D.C. United —Wow. Thoughts on that red?

45+6—RED CARD! D.C. United’s Junior Moreno gets sent off for his second yellow after a dirty challenge on Marky Delgado! It’s not the worst challenge, but he goes right through his back. Wow. D.C. have to play the second half a man down.

45+3—VAR being called into question for a potential handball in the TFC box. Penalty being reviewed here. That’d be harsh, upon seeing the replay. NO PENALTY. We’re good.

45’—WHAT A SAVE! Q! Point blank, Westberg robs Kamara, who directs a free header towards goal from six yards out. Q is able to get his arm to the ball. I think we’ve had everything now.

44’—GOAL!!! 2-0 TFC! What are you doing D.C.? Of all people, Pozuelo forces a turnover out of the back line, scuffs the finish, but guess who’s there to clean it up? AYOOOOOOOO!!

36’—Akinola with another chance after Justin Morrow makes another good run down the left wing. Morrow has looked great this game, but that cross needed to be better, and a scream from him after tells me that he knows it.

35’—Tweeted this out, but I’ll share it in here as well.

29’—TFC look so good. That’s it. That’s the update.

20’—Akinola with another great chance after a sweet ball by Tsubasa Endoh. He takes it around the GK but can’t find the connection on the finish. Ayo could’ve had 3 within 20 minutes? He’s looked super dangerous.

19’—I just took in that we’ll have Pozuelo and Piatti standing over free kicks from either side of the ball this season. Lol.

17’—Caught my breath. That goal got me out of my seat. AYOOOO.

11’—AYOOOOOOO!! GOAL 1-0 TFC! WHAT A SHOT!

9’—TFC doing a really good job at making direct passes forward. One pass is penetrating the entire D.C. defence.

8’—Solid start for the Reds so far. They’ve been dominant. It’s so good to see Michael Bradley back on the field again.

4’—Pablo Piatti with his first chance of the match! He drives it just wide. Great pass forward from Bradley.

1’ — We’re OFF! It’s been an excruciatingly long four months.

9:05 a.m. EST—Justin Morrow says he’ll have the name “Tamir Rice” on the back of his jersey. If you’re confused, mix in a quick google search.

9:00 a.m. EST—Moments away from the return of TFC footy. Who’s buzzing!?

8:48 a.m. EST—Taking a moment to say how thankful we are that everyone re-tested negative yesterday.

8:37 a.m. EST—TFC rocking the Black Lives Matter shirt during warmups. Love to see it.

8:30 a.m. EST—Michael Bradley’s return? Pablo Piatti getting the start? Ayo Akinola leading the charge up front? Talk to me. What are you most excited to see today?

8:25 a.m. EST—PSA:

8:20 a.m. EST—TFC confirm. No changes from yesterday. We’re finally going to see Pablo?

8:10 a.m. EST—Someone let me know if the TFC lineup drops. I need coffee.

8:04 a.m. EST—Can confirm that D.C. United will be going with the same lineup. TFC fashionably late as usual. It looks like the Reds will be rocking the Unity Kit, though.

8:02 a.m. EST—I believe today is the day we finally see Pablo Piatti. I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again. Toronto FC may have been the best team in the league without PP, but now they add him to the lineup? Set up to be a force.

8:00 a.m. EST—Heartbreaker for some of our former Reds Drew Moor, Clint Irwin, and Nicolas Benezet last night as Colorado lost 2-0 to Real Salt Lake. S/O Peter of FaceBook for the correction!

7:52 a.m. EST—Good news. Toronto FC have reportedly left the hotel this morning, according to TSN’s Kristian Jack. Looks like we’ll be seeing some footy this am.

7:43 a.m. EST—LET’S TRY THIS AGAIN. WAKE UP! IT’S GAME DAY!


STARTING XI

Same lineups from yesterday.

Pablo Piatti makes his first start for Toronto FC while Ayo Akinola makes just his second start for the club.

A decent lineup from D.C. United to counter, including former Atlanta United midfielder Julian Gressel, who was linked to TFC in the offseason.


MATCH PREVIEW (Courtesy Brady Reid)

ST.JOHN’S, Canada— It’s been over four months since Toronto FC last played an MLS match, defeating NYCFC 1-0 at home way back on March 7.

Three flight attempts, two slices of pumpernickel, and a postponed kickoff later and TFC are finally set to face off against D.C. United this Sunday in Orlando to open their ‘MLS is Back’ account.

While there’s certainly some skepticism surrounding the safety of the players and personnel during the tournament, it’s not all doom and gloom as the Reds return to action.

Captain Michael Bradley has taken the time during the long layoff to nurse the ankle injury that kept him out to start the season and is now fully fit and available for selection in Greg Vanney’s side.

Offseason DP signing Pablo Piatti is also healthy after a hamstring injury kept him out of the opening two TFC matches. Fitness has been the concern for Piatti since joining the club from La Liga outfit Espanyol. Even at age 31, if the Argentine is operating at anything near 100 per cent, he should be a huge boost to an already potent attack.

With plenty of options in midfield and on the flanks for Vanney to consider, the toughest decision might be choosing who will lead the line against D.C.

Thanks to a delayed return from Florida back to Toronto, Jozy Altidore is unlikely to appear in the Reds tournament opener according to Vanney, with a lack of training sessions and subsequent match fitness a concern.

With the kickoff delayed by a couple of days, it will be interesting to see how the schedule change impacts Altidore’s availability on Sunday.

To make matters worse, surprise rookie sensation and logical Altidore replacement Achara suffered a serious knee injury in training last week which required a surgery that leaves him sidelined for the remainder of 2020.

In lieu of a natural center forward, TFC might fancy a false nine Alejandro Pozuelo to start things off in the Sunshine State, a tactic they rode throughout their playoff run all the way to the MLS Cup Final last fall.

For a more detailed breakdown of how the Reds shape up heading into the restart, check out our WTR refresher.

On the D.C. United side of things, the opponent comes in with their full squad present in Orlando, save for midfielder Paul Arriola who continues to rehab a significant knee injury.

Longtime Columbus Crew attacker and MLS veteran Federico Higuaín is set to make his debut for D.C. in the tournament with the 35-year-old Argentine fully recovered from an ACL injury.

Also joining Higuaín in Washington during the offseason was former Atlanta United man and 2018 MLS Cup winner Julian Gressel.

The German midfielder is a huge addition to the Black-and-Red attack and is a name the TFC faithful will recall from their 2019 playoff run, with Gressel opening the scoring for Atlanta before Toronto came back to win the Eastern Conference final 2-1 last October.

Bringing in Ola Kamara provided head coach Ben Olsen the third piece in a trio of intriguing new options alongside Higuaín and Gressel.

Kamara joins D.C. from Chinese side Shenzhen after spending the 2019 season overseas. The 30-year-old Norwegian does have plenty of past MLS success on his resume, scoring 48 goals in 90 league appearances in stints with both Columbus and the LA Galaxy.

The one knock against United this season could be the lack of youth within their attacking options. However, if the likes of Kamara and Higuaín are healthy, they have proven in the past they are quite capable of providing offense as they’ll likely be leaned on as a pivotal part of Olsen’s new-look squad.

To find the last time these two sides faced off, we have to throw it back to the opening round of last year’s playoffs where TFC hit D.C. for four extra-time strikes in a 5-1 thriller at BMO Field.

The final scoreline was ultimately a flattering one with the game ending in a 1-1 stalemate in regulation before Toronto caught fire during the additional thirty minutes.

Although neither team will field the same starting XI that squared off last October in Toronto, the Reds come in as the favourite to come out on top.

With just ninety minutes available for these two settle things on Sunday, expect TFC to come out aiming to find the back of the net early and often as they look to start their ‘MLS is Back’ campaign on the right foot.

Additional Notes:

  • Both teams will have the option to use five substitutes in the match but are limited to three different opportunities to make those changes throughout the 90 minutes.
  • A win or draw against D.C. would stretch TFC’s regular season unbeaten run to 13 matches.
  • Were Eriq Zavaleta to feature for the Reds in the tournament, it would mark his 100th league appearance for the club.

HOW TO WATCH

This feels awesome to type: kickoff will be just after 9 am on TSN! Pregame show starts at 8:30 am. We’ll see you bright an early!