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Preview: Toronto FC heads west to take on the Colorado Rapids

The Reds face a Western Conference side for just the second time this season.

MLS: Canadian Championship-Toronto FC vs York United Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Following two wins on the bounce against Nashville SC in MLS and York United in the Canadian Championship quarter-finals, Toronto FC will now have their sights set on another MLS upset when they take on the Western Conference’s third-place team, the Colorado Rapids.

Javier Perez’s men are still bottom of the East and 17 points behind the playoff spots with nine league games left to play. With a late postseason push no longer in their own hands, TFC is ultimately playing for pride for the remainder of the campaign as they look to prop up the table with less than 10 matches to go.

Kickoff is set for 8:00 pm EST at DSG Park in Commerce City, Colorado, with the game available to watch on TSN.

A late 2-1 victory over Nashville, which was followed by a thumping 4-0 triumph against York United, has given TFC arguably their brightest spell of the 2021 campaign. It may be too little too late in the context of the playoffs, but the Reds are still gunning for domestic silverware and have eyes on a strong MLS finish.

Six goals and one conceded in their last two seems like quite the stat given that Toronto had scored just three in their previous six prior to the Nashville win. While most will not consider York United as a high-caliber opponent, that match was the first time TFC bagged four goals in a competitive game since the 4-3 win over CF Montreal on July 16, 2020.

Jonathan Osorio grabbed his sixth goal of the season in all competitions against York in midweek, making him the first and only TFC player to have scored in three separate tournaments this year (MLS, CCL, CanChamp).

A TFC eye for goal will be key as the Reds face a Colorado Rapids side that has not lost since July 24. In spite of three draws in their last three, the Rapids are on a 10-match unbeaten run and continue to edge closer to booking their place in the MLS Cup playoffs.

Colorado played out a 1-1 draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps in their last encounter as former Liverpool defender Danny Wilson’s opener was cancelled out by Brian White’s emphatic effort four minutes before halftime.

Toronto’s 2-2 draw with the Whitecaps back in matchday two was their only Western Conference clash of the season so far. The Rapids have also played just one team from the opposite conference, recording a 2-0 away win against FC Cincinnati in matchday eight.

On the TFC injury front, Alejandro Pozuelo will miss his fifth straight game after suffering a setback in training. In addition, Tsubasa Endoh, Ralph Priso, Jozy Altidorre and Ayo Akinola remain sidelined with longer-term injuries. 20-year-old starlet Jordan Perruzza has also been ruled out of contention for the game.

Kemar Lawrence will return to the fold after serving his one-match ban against Nashville, but Michael Bradley is unavailable due to yellow card accumulation. With Bradley and Pozuelo out, Osorio looks set to wear the captain’s armband and lead the team out at DSG Park.

Saturday’s clash will be the 21st meeting in history between Toronto and Colorado. The Reds have claimed victory on 10 occasions, most recently in 2019. TFC went two goals up through Endoh and Pozuelo, but were pegged back by strikes from Keegan Rosenberry and Sam Nicholson. Osorio then had the final word as his winner in the 70th minute sealed all three points and a memorable 3-2 win for Toronto.

A third win in the space of a week will undoubtedly boost the squad’s morale even more ahead of their Canadian Championship semi-final clash with Pacific FC, with an exact date, time, and location still to be determined.

Moreover, back-to-back MLS wins for the first time since October 2020 should be on the minds of both Perez and his players coming into Saturday’s clash in the Mile High City.

Predicted Lineups:

Colorado Rapids: Yarbrough; Rosenberry, Wilson, Trusty; Galvan, Price, Acosta, Esteves; Lewis, Kaye, Barrios

Toronto FC: Bono; Laryea, Gonzalez, Mavinga, Lawrence; Okello, Delgado; Osorio, Soteldo, Shaffelburg; Achara