TORONTO, Ont. - The Reds are back in action back home in a midweek matchup against the Philadelphia Union. The kick-off is scheduled for 7:30 PM EST and as always can be watched on TSN1.
Being out of a playoff race means the Reds can play the spoiler role for their opponents. On the weekend, Jozy Altidore played that role perfectly with his late heroics against CF Montreal. On Wednesday night, the Reds will try and do the same to the Philadelphia Union.
A makeshift lineup, especially on the backend which included Michael Bradley at centre-back and youngster Noble Okello at the base of the midfield had good and bad moments, but given the circumstances and it being a derby was an admirable performance from the Reds.
Jacob Shaffelburg, Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, and Noble Okello were picked by head coach Javier Perez to start in last weekend’s derby and all had positive moments and Jayden Nelson was brought on late in the match as the Reds searched for an equalizer. Saturday’s performance from the four youngsters showed that the Reds do have talent in the ranks but need more minutes to continue to develop and earn some valuable experience.
The youngsters will also continue to benefit from playing alongside the more talented senior players in the Reds squad. Saturday saw both Alejandro Pozuelo and Jozy Altidore come off the bench once again. After a lengthy spell on the sidelines for both, Perez might consider starting Altidore and Pozuelo against Philadelphia.
Javier Perez will have to make a decision once again as to who will fill in the centre-back role against the Union. With Omar Gonzalez sidelined once again for Wednesday night’s matchup, will Perez opt to use Bradley as a make-shift centre-back once again, or will Perez hand youngster Julian Dunn a start.
Along with Gonzalez, Ayo Akinola and Yeferson Soteldo both continue to be unavailable for the Reds on Wednesday night.
The Philadelphia Union arrive in Toronto after picking up a big win in their quest to clinch an MLS playoff berth thanks to a penalty from the Club’s leading goal scorer Kacper Przybylko. The striker now has 11 goals in 2021 and with his penalty and the crucial three points the Union picked up, Philadelphia leapfrogged Nashville into second place in the Eastern Conference.
With three matches to play in the MLS regular season, only the New England Revolution have clinched a playoff spot in the East, after securing the Supporters’ Shield with their win on the weekend. While Philadelphia - who have a six-point lead on the seventh and final playoff seed - are not in any danger of missing the playoffs, a win against Toronto will get the Union even closer to locking in a playoff spot, and more importantly, home-field advantage in the first round.
A point of worry for the Union will be their road form this season. While Philadelphia has picked up 10 wins in 16 matches at home, on the road the Union have only managed to pick up three wins in 15 matches, and unsurprisingly have conceded the bulk of their goals on the road. With the importance this game has on the Union’s season, we might see a more defensive approach from head coach Jim Curtin at BMO Field.
Philadelphia comes into this match with a relatively healthy lineup. The Union will be without Ilsinho (Hamstring), Cory Burke (Ankle), and Alvas Powell (Hamstring). The midweek match will mean Curtin may opt to rotate his lineup against Toronto but will have the majority of his squad at his disposal.
Toronto FC holds the all-time record in this matchup with 11 wins. Dating back to last season, in the two most recent duels between the Reds and the Union, Philadelphia has gotten the better of the Reds picking up all six points without allowing a goal. In their most recent matchup, the Union walked away with a 3-0 victory at Subaru Park.
Opponent: Philadelphia Union
Kick-off: 7:30 PM EST
Location: BMO Field, Toronto, ON