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Preview: Toronto FC eyes morale-boosting victory over Nashville SC

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The Reds have recorded just five points from their last 10 games.

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Toronto FC Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a frustrating midweek defeat to Inter Miami, Toronto FC will look to build on an impressive performance when Nashville SC comes to visit for the second time this year.

There are just 10 games left to play in MLS and TFC are 18 points behind the playoff spots. Ultimately, playing for pride seems like the name of the game for the rest of the campaign, with any possible postseason hopes no longer in the Reds’ hands.

Kickoff on Saturday is set for 7:30 pm EST at BMO Field, with the game available to watch live on TSN.

Tuesday night’s clash with Miami was one filled with utter drama. A sending-off, Jacob Shaffelburg being robbed of a goal, and last but not least, a 95th minute winner for the visitors from the penalty spot.

The defeat, TFC’s sixth on the bounce, leaves Javier Perez’s men bottom of the Eastern Conference and five points the closest team above them, FC Cincinnati.

A victory at BMO Field is well overdue, as the Reds have yet to win on home soil since returning from Florida back in July. While victory is always the goal, Toronto will face another in-form side in the shape of Nashville SC.

TFC’s upcoming opponent has won four of their last five matches and are firmly on course for both a place in the playoff and next season’s Leagues Cup. Gary Smith’s side are three points ahead of third place Orlando City SC with a game in hand, but it’s worth noting that just three of the 2020 expansion club’s remaining 11 games are at home.

Nashville were just in Montreal and they journey to Toronto on the back of a 1-0 win at the Stade Saputo. In their previous two games, the club from Music City recorded two-goal victories over New York City FC and Atlanta United respectively.

The Reds’ backline will need to keep danger-man Hany Mukhtar at bay as the German midfielder currently leads the entire league in goal contributions with 19 (10 goals and nine assists).

In terms of team news, Kemar Lawrence will serve a one-match ban following his red card against Inter Miami.

On the injury front, Alejandro Pozuelo has been ruled out for the third consecutive game while Tsubasa Endoh, who hobbled off with an apparent hamstring problem after just four minutes on Tuesday, is also not available for selection. In his pre-match press conference, Perez told the media that Endoh’s injury is more severe than initially thought.

Ralph Priso, Jozy Altidore and Ayo Akinola remain long-term absentees.

In addition, Nick DeLeon and Jayden Nelson are both ineligible to play due to the league’s health and safety protocols.

The two sides last met on August 1st as the spoils were shared in a 1-1 draw at BMO Field. Omar Gonzalez opened the scoring for the hosts after 20 minutes before Robert Castellanos equalized on the stroke of halftime.

Saturday’s clash will be the fourth since Nashville joined MLS almost two years ago. Toronto has yet to claim a win over their American rivals as Mukhtar and co. won the two previous encounters before August’s stalemate.

If Toronto triumphs this weekend, Nashville SC will become the 36th different team in all competitions that the Reds have recorded at least one victory over.

With the homecoming of Toronto FC’s greatest player potentially on the horizon, as well as the long-awaited start of the Reds’ Canadian Championship campaign, Perez and co. will have their sights set on a positive end to a rollercoaster ride of a season.


Predicted Lineups:

Toronto FC: Bono; Auro, Zavaleta, Mavinga, Laryea; Bradley, Delgado; Osorio, Soteldo, Shaffelburg; Achara

Nashville SC: Willis; Miller, Zimmerman, Romney; Lovitz, McCarty, Mukhtar, Anuga, Washington; Sapong, Rios