TORONTO, CANADA - Coming off their first win since the season opener, Toronto FC II get back to work on Wednesday night, facing South Georgia Tormenta for the third time in June. Once two struggling teams, both have very different mindsets heading into Wednesday.
A lot has changed since TFC II first met South Georgia Tormenta on June 9. At that point, South Georgia had dropped four of their last five games and was spinning out at the bottom of the USL League 1 standings.
Now, however, things have changed. Tormenta has strung together a series of four straight wins and has a precisely opposite record than they had the last time. It’s no longer four losses of the last, five; rather four wins.
Tormenta Head Coach Ian Cameron made a tactical adjustment at the beginning of June, switching from a defensively porous 4-3-3, which had failed to keep a clean sheet, to a 5-4-1, that can shift to a very untraditional 6-3-2. It is not necessarily an exciting way to play, but Tormenta has not been off the ball entirely, averaging 45.5% possession since the shift.
THAT'S HOW YOU DO IT pic.twitter.com/9DQeRO4zUA— Tormenta FC (@Tormenta_FC) June 20, 2021
With winds of success blowing in their sails, Tormenta FC comes up against a Toronto FC II side that is finally hitting a stride themselves. To say things have been tough for Toronto is an understatement.
Since kicking off on May 22, the club has played twice a week and made their temporary home in two different states. Despite that, the Young Reds are right in the thick of the playoff hunt.
However, after grabbing a draw and a win against Fort Lauderdale CF over the last 10 days, things are on the rise for Toronto. Not only does the 2-1 victory in the previous match help them in the standings, but it boosts their confidence as they head into their final double match week.
With a win on Wednesday, TFC II would vault themselves above the proverbial ‘red line’ and into a playoff spot. But, unfortunately, while the club started the season late, the rush of games to start the campaign has them caught up to others.
Toronto’s Deep Lineup
With the possibility of stringing a pair of wins together, the mid-week clash with Tormenta is yet another big game for Toronto and one that could very well see heavy rotation.
In net, 34-year-old Caleb Patterson-Sewell has been integral to Toronto’s recent positive play; however, Head Coach Mike Muñoz has a bevy of goalkeepers at his disposal, and after two games of the player-coach, it is likely time to make that switch.
Brogan Engbers is a goalkeeper who came through the TFC Academy System before heading to the NCAA and has backed up Patterson-Sewell in the last two matches. While Andreas Vaikla and Kevin Silva have featured for the Young Reds, Engbers appears poised to start against Tormenta.
A significant factor since the move to Florida has also been the loans of MLS players to the USL side. The likes of Ralph Priso, Jayden Nelson, Kevin Silva, and Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty have all featured in prominent roles since the move to Florida; however, their selection status is unclear heading into Wednesday.
Nelson and Marshall-Rutty are coming off USL League 1 Team of the Week performances, and if they are available for selection, playing them is an easy decision. Nelson scored in the first match against Fort Lauderdale as TFC II drew 2-2, while Marshall-Rutty picked up a goal and assisted in Saturday’s win.
What a week for the Young Reds! @jahkeelerutty & @JaydenNelson__ have been named to the USL League One Team of the Week presented by Cleer Audio!— Toronto FC II (@TorontoFCII) June 21, 2021
The left side of midfield has been an important area for Toronto this year, as Luca Petrasso and Themi Atnonoglou have created countless opportunities. While Petrasso has played all nine games and leads Toronto with 18 chances created, Antonoglou is not far behind, in second, despite missing a pair of matches.
Whether it be Jayden Nelson or Themi Antonoglou linking with Petrasso on the left side, TFC II will look to transition the ball centrally to the forwards, where more top selections await. Garrett Mclaughlin currently leads the team with four goals; however, Antonio Carlini and Julian Altobelli have also proven their worth as forwards with a goal apiece.
Despite the lack of wins through the first third of the season, Toronto FC II have played some positive soccer and appear to be hitting their stride at the right time. It will not be easy to take down one of the hottest teams in the league, but coming off a win, it is certainly possible.
Fans can take in the midweek clash at 7:00 pm ET on the USL League 1 YouTube channel.
PREDICTION: 2-2 draw