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Preview: Familiar faces return as Toronto FC welcomes LA Galaxy to town

TFC’s most successful manager returns to the stadium he once called home.

Atlanta United FC v Los Angeles Galaxy
Greg Vanney and Victor Vazquez chat after a 2-0 LA Galaxy win over Atlanta United at Dignity Health Sports Park on July 24, 2022.
Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Wednesday night is set to be a nice little homecoming in the middle of a heated playoff race.

Greg Vanney will be back on the touchline at BMO Field for the first time since 2020, this time though, in the visiting team’s technical area. Joining him will be some former Reds, eager to make their mark against their old club.

Vanney, who left Toronto after the 2020 season, returns with both his current and former side entrenched in tight playoff battle in their respective conferences.

Toronto, coming off of an encouraging 2-0 win in Charlotte, return home for a massive midweek matchup. The Reds are now three points out of the seventh and final Eastern Conference playoff spot, though the seventh-placed Columbus Crew have two games in hand.

LA Galaxy are in a slightly more comfortable position, with Vanney’s side sitting in seventh, one point ahead of the Portland Timbers, but with two games in hand.

TFC have lost just once in their previous seven matches. The squad has done their part to stay in the mix, playing some of their best soccer (and scoring some of their nicest goals) with the regular season drawing to a close.

Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi have of course been spectacular of late. The pair assisted each other for the two goals against Charlotte and have been carrying the goalscoring load since their debuts in July.

With the goals flowing at one end, TFC has found some defensive consistency and solidity at the other end at an opportune time. The same back four of Domenico Criscito, Chris Mavinga, Lukas MacNaughton, and Richie Laryea have started the past five consecutive matches together. Coming off of their third clean sheet of the 2022 MLS season, Toronto has looked more comfortable at the back as of late, with less mistakes being made in their own end.

Toronto FC v Charlotte FC
Lukas MacNaughton wins a header during the 2-0 win over Charlotte FC at Bank of America Stadium on August 27, 2022.
Photo by Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Joining Greg Vanney on Wednesday will be former TFC players Victor Vazquez, Raheem Edwards, and Eriq Zavaleta.

Vazquez has played a rotational role for his new club, coming off the bench in 11 of his 19 appearances so far. That trend may continue with the arrival of another former Barcelona midfielder, Riqui Puig. The 23-year-old has just recently signed in LA, setting up a splendid assist to Chicharito in a 2-1 win over the New England Revolution in the Galaxy’s last match.

Raheem Edwards was not a part of the squad for that game but might make a return to the fold in Toronto against the club that raised him. The MLS journeyman has revived his career under Vanney’s tutelage this season, recording six assists in 21 starts for the Galaxy.

Yet, divisive midfielder Mark Delgado will have to wait to make his return to his old stomping grounds. The United States international has officially been ruled out of the Wednesday night matchup.

Looking to unlock the defence and unload the goals in Toronto will be Chicharito. Mexico’s all-time leading goalscorer has 12 strikes on the season and has scored in four straight matches.

Another name to look out for is Dejan Joveljic. The young striker has been nothing short of a super sub this campaign, netting 10 goals in just six starts. The Serbian will look to make an impact off the bench yet again when his team comes to BMO Field.

Game Notes

  • Toronto FC and LA Galaxy haven’t drawn a match since March 2013
  • Toronto FC has only lost to the Galaxy once at BMO Field (3-5-1)

Predicted Lineups

Toronto FC: Bono; Criscito, Mavinga, MacNaughton, Laryea; Nelson, Bradley, Osorio; Insigne, Akinola, Bernardeschi

LA Galaxy: Bond; Edwards, Coulibaly, DePuy, Araujo; Brugman; Cabral, Alvarez, Puig, Grandsir; Chicharito

Match Details

Opponent: LA Galaxy

Kickoff time: 7:30 p.m. ET

Watch: TSN

Stadium: BMO Field, Toronto, Ont.