TORONTO, CANADA - As the Olympic Games get underway in Tokyo, time is winding down for Toronto FC II as a nomadic club. After kicking off the season in Arizona and relocating to Florida, the Young Reds were initially scheduled to return to the BMO Training Ground for July 30, however, that has not been confirmed.
Before Head Coach Mike Muñoz and his team can start looking ahead to July 30, they have to get by New England Revolution II on Friday, a club they fell to just two weeks ago. Kickoff on Friday is at 7:00 pm ET, and fans can watch on the USL League 1 YouTube channel.
Coming off a thrilling 4-2 win over North Carolina in their last match, TFC II will look to string together a pair of wins for the second time this season. With the three points from last week’s victory, TFC II also sits in fifth, two points above the USL League 1 playoff cutoff.
New England won the previous match between the two sides just a couple of weeks ago. Still, Toronto played exceptionally well and looked like the better team throughout the night. Seeking to avenge their loss and to return to Canada on a high note, TFC II will be determined on Friday evening.
The Revs II are welcoming back defender Francois Dulysse, who has been with the Haitian men’s national team at the Concacaf Gold Cup. Also joining New England wil be German goalkeeper Yannik Oettl; however, he is unlikely to feature after only being signed this week.
For Toronto, Garrett McLaughlin and Andreas Vaikla are likely to lead the way again, despite New England’s fresh faces. Both of the TFC stars earned nominations for Goal of the Week and Save of the Week, respectively, while McLaughlin climbed within three goals of the league’s golden boot.
While the Young Reds approach this match with three points on their mind, they are coming up against a New England side that has not lost to an MLS-affiliated team this season. Although the Revs have been mediocre otherwise, it is the independent USL teams that have forced them to a 5-7-1 record.
As for Muñoz’s team sheet for Toronto, expect Vaikla to start. Muñoz tends to stick with goalkeepers for two matches at a time, meaning the Estonian-Canadian would get his second consecutive start.
After making some adjustments on the backline against a weak North Carolina side, expect the Young Reds to send out a first-choice defence against New England. Luca Pettraso is all but a lock in every game for Toronto, as his ability to create chances is the best on the team. At the same time, a combination of Nyall Higgins, Talen Maples and Kevin Politz will slot in at centreback. On the right, expect Kosi Thompson to replace Rohan Goulbourne.
Toronto’s backline and midfield are extremely deep in 2021, allowing Muñoz some flexibility on team selection each match. In the midfield, Themi Antonoglou is poised to return on the wing after being left out of the starting XI against North Carolina. One of Julian Altobelli or Antonio Carlini will likely start in midfield, with the other at forward.
Although McLaughlin scored a hat-trick and a bicycle kick in the last match, Muñoz has been warry of the playing time on his forward’s legs. It is hard to predict whether Muñoz sticks with an in-form McLaughlin or opts for another solution.
A slick passing sequence, a fine free kick, and a brilliant bike are up for @select_america Goal of the Week!— USL League One (@USLLeagueOne) July 19, 2021
VOTE: https://t.co/PXEfbWZ2Ra pic.twitter.com/ct5wELGPwD
While there has been no word on the status of MLS loanee Erickson Gallardo, he could feature again for the Young Reds after impressing in his USL League 1 season debut. The club often announced the MLS-USL transaction in the morning ahead of the TFC II match so more names could be on the way.
As they look for a slice of revenge, TFC II will have an eye on a potential July 30 match at home during their game on Friday. But first, they must get past New England, as Muñoz’s men try to hold their spot above the playoff cutoff.