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Preview: Toronto FC face tough test against Philadelphia Union

TFC will look to stay undefeated in four when they welcome Philadelphia to lakeshore.

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Toronto FC
Jonathan Osorio and Jose Martinez during the last match between Toronto FC and Philadelphia Union which finished 2-2 at BMO Field.
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto FC will take on the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Union on Saturday night at BMO Field.

Following a lively 2-2 draw in Utah last Saturday, the Reds return home looking to go four straight matches without defeat. Head Coach Bob Bradley was pleased with the result on the road and the performance of his younger players:

“It’s a very good point in a tough place to play,” Coach Bradley said. “We feel good that they young guys are making progress and having an impact on the game.”

After such an exciting contest it is back to business for Coach Bradley and his squad.

Following a disheartening 4-1 loss to New York Red Bulls in this season’s home opener, Toronto have won two in a row at home.

Perhaps the toughest matchup of the season awaits this weekend though, as the Philadelphia Union come to town. Toronto FC will be without designated player Carlos Salcedo for Saturday following his red card dismissal against Real Salt Lake. Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty will also miss the match due to injury.

It will be interesting to see how Coach Bradley shapes his backline given the absence of Salcedo. He could give Chris Mavinga or Kadin Chung the start, or move Michael Bradley to centre back.

In the attack, the Reds have their work cut out for them. Philadelphia have only conceded twice in their opening six matches, keeping a clean sheet in their previous four.

According to fbref.com, Toronto FC are tied with DC United with the lowest xG in the Eastern Conference. Creating quality chances and being able to proceed the ball into dangerous areas was difficult in the last game against Real Salt Lake. Even though TFC came away with two goals, the attack seemed to be a tad disjointed.

Given the season has only just begun and Coach Bradley is still tinkering with his preferred starting eleven, this should not be a major concern just yet. This upcoming battle against Philadelphia will be a good test for a young TFC side.

MLS: Toronto FC at Real Salt Lake
Jacob Shaffelburg and Andrew Brody come together in Toronto FC’s last match, a 2-2 draw with Real Salt Lake.
Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

The visiting Union come to BMO Field in red-hot form, sitting atop the Eastern Conference standings (and Waking the Red’s Power Rankings). After a 1-1 draw to Minnesota United in the first game of the season, Jim Curtin’s side are still undefeated and have won five on the bounce.

Barring disaster, Philly are certainly looking like they will make the playoffs for the fifth year in a row. The Union lost in the 2021 Eastern Conference finals to New York City FC in heartbreaking fashion, so the team will be eager for another shot at making it to the MLS Cup for the first time in the club history. Philadelphia haven’t been an offensive juggernaut this season but have instead have gotten their wins in low-scoring affairs.

With goalkeeper Andre Blake, Philly have one of MLS’s best between the sticks. In front of Blake, the steady back four of Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, and Nathan Harriel have started in tandem in five straight matches, only conceding once during that span. Striker Sergio Santos will return to the squad after battling a hamstring injury. There are no other injuries to report for Philadelphia.


Game notes

  • In the 28 matchups between Toronto FC and Philadelphia Union, each team has scored 41 goals
  • Philadelphia Union striker Sergio Santos has 6 goals in his last 4 matches against Toronto FC, including a hat trick in his side’s 5-0 win over TFC in October 2020

Predicted lineups

Toronto FC: Bono; Mavinga, O’Neill, MacNaughton; Chung, Osorio, Bradley, Thompson; Nelson, Pozuelo; Jimenez

Philadelphia Union: Blake; Wagner, Elliott, Glesnes, Harriel; Flack, Martinez, Bedoya; Gazdag; Uhre, Carranza


Match details

Opponent: Philadelphia Union

Kickoff time: 7:30 p.m. EST

Watch: TSN

Stadium: BMO Field, Toronto, Ont.