TORONTO, CANADA - Toronto FC II spent the first third of their season on the road, so being back in hotels is almost like playing at home. However, amid a brief away spell, the Young Reds are grasping onto the playoff battle, one of the tightest in professional sports.
The Young Reds have played five of their last eight matches back at the BMO Training Ground but are on the road again for a two-game spell that begins Friday when they visit the Greenville Triumph.
Clinging onto the final playoff spot by a single point, TFC II is coming off a hard-fought 0-0 battle against league leaders Chatanooga and are in a run of good form as they prepare to take on a Greenville side that is clipping at their heels.
In the USL League 1 standings, anyone who wins a game pushes themselves above the playoff bar. There’s only one point separating third place from 11th, leaving no room for error for any club.
Led by Head Coach Mike Muñoz, the Young Reds have kept pace with the rest of the league and have not folded against those opponents who have separated themselves from the pack. There is a lot to like about the way Muñoz’s side is playing, and all signs indicate that should continue in Greenville.
Other than the last match against a stingy Chatanooga side, TFC II has not had any problems putting the ball in the back of the net, and although leading goalscorer Garrett McLaughlin has not scored since July 18, the rest of the group has stepped up.
Outside of the Houston Dynamo MLS Superdraft pick, nine players have socred for TFC II this season, including the Canadian connection of Julian Altobelli and Antonio Carlini, who have three and two goals, respectively.
Throughout the season, Muñoz has rotated his goalkeeper between Estonian-Canadian Andreas Vaikla, TFC loanee Kevin Silva and player-coach Caleb Patterson-Sewell. Vaikla has earned two consecutive USL League 1 Team of the Week nods, something that may sway Muñoz into playing the youngster once again.
These keepers all earned shutouts, but which will earn your vote for Fans' Choice Save of the Week?— USL League One (@USLLeagueOne) August 31, 2021
VOTE: https://t.co/2wuwKBuWoh pic.twitter.com/KXQWvxscBD
Vaikla has played two games, and that is usually when Muñoz rotates his netminders, but the 24-year-old has made a case for a third start, something hard to find on TFC II in 2021.
Whichever goalkeeper is in the net will undoubtedly face many shots. Although Greenville is middle of the pack when it comes to finishing their chances, the attack is rounding into form after posting 16 shots in their last match. However, that is really the only positive from the not-so triumphant Triumph in recent weeks.
At this point in the season, Toronto’s regular contributors have emerged, and they are helped nearly every week by loan players from the MLS club. Last time out, Jordan Peruzza and Julian Dunn suited up for the Young Reds, and both could be in the cards to play on Friday.
The midfield has been a critical part of TFC II’s recent success, and last match, it was one of the few parts not made up of MLS contracted players. However, Steffen Yeates, Carlini and Altobelli have all played together regularly this season and are gelling well at the right time heading into the final stretch of the campaign.
Regardless of who starts on Friday, Toronto should come out with a win. Yes, the standings are incredibly close in USL League 1, but after picking up a draw against the league leaders and picking up points in four of the last five, a skidding team should be no challenge.
Fans can tune in to TFC II and Greenville on the USL League 1 YouTube channel at 7:00 pm ET.
Prediction: 3-1 win for Toronto