TORONTO, Ont. - Growing pains are part of any new challenge and TFC are learning that first-hand this season. The Reds will look to rebound from last week’s disappointing loss when they host D.C. United on Saturday afternoon.
Kick-off is scheduled for 3 PM EST and can be watched on TSN.
“You need points for confidence, you need points just to keep fans happy, but I really talk about the process,” said head coach Bob Bradley after last week’s match up. “Everybody’s got to understand that the work is going to continue. That’s just the way we’re going to become good.”
While results have certainly not been going Toronto’s way in the early part of the season, you can see what Bradley is trying to achieve with his squad this season - and it may take time but should pay dividends in the long run.
In the meantime, however, Bradley will have to rely on his experienced players to play their part. New additions Jesús Jiménez and Carlos Salcedo have had positive contributions so far. While Salcedo was suspended for last week’s matchup, he will be available for selection this weekend - look for him to take up his usual spot in the heart of the Reds’ defence. Jiménez on the other hand has factored in all three Reds goals so far this year, scoring twice (against NYRB and Columbus) and providing an assist in TFC’s season opener.
Along with Michael Bradley, Alejandro Pozuelo and Jonathan Osorio have provided some continuity in the Reds’ midfield this season, however the latter two may need to take on a more offensive role while the young Reds continue to get up to speed with the MLS.
Heading into their weekend match, Ayo Akinola and Jacob Shaffelburg continue to be unavailable, while Chris Mavinga is questionable. Bob Bradley has preferred the centre back pairing of Salcedo and Shane O’Neill so far and provided O’Neill is healthy will likely turn back to his more experienced defenders. Luca Petrasso has continued to impress and should keep his role covering for the injured Shaffelburg.
Turning to the Reds’ opponent this weekend, D.C. United will be looking to bounce back after their first loss of the season as the Chicago Fire walked away with a 2-0 win at Audi Field. D.C. started the season well, keeping consecutive clean sheets to begin the year against Cincinnati and Charlotte, but were not able to do so for a third week in a row.
D.C. United striker Ola Kamara has featured in all three games for the Black-and-Red this season and has netted twice in three games this season, joint highest with fellow striker Michael Estrada. Kamara has had a lot of success against the Reds, having scored six career goals against Toronto, including a brace against Toronto last season, the most he’s scored against any opponent.
Head coach Hernán Losada will have a healthy roster to pick from as everyone is available. Losada, currently in his second year with the club, has already experienced success against Toronto collecting all six points - the first United have done so since 2014. Last year’s result included a 7-1 win at home that led to Toronto parting ways with Chris Armas.
Overall, D.C. United have gotten the better of the Reds over the last few years. Since 2017, the Black-and-Red are unbeaten against Toronto in their last nine games (3 wins, 6 draws) but the Reds did knock United out of the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs in 5-1 win in extra time.
The Reds’ last time out at BMO field was not pleasant. While the game plan is evident and the grand plan is still coming together, Bradley and his squad will have to show the Reds faithful that the process is worth sticking to.
Opponent: D.C. United
Location: BMO Field, Toronto, ON
Time: 3 PM EST