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Predicting Toronto FC’s lineup against the New York Red Bulls (first leg)

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Who will Greg Vanney send out at Red Bull Arena?

MLS: Toronto FC at New York Red Bulls Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Well, we’re here. Now that the playoffs are upon us, there’s no talk of resting players. Toronto FC have a full-strength squad available, and the side that takes the field on Monday night will be their best.

Greg Vanney has plenty of options to choose from, but I don’t expect him to stray too far from the norm. The formation change in Atlanta was interesting, but I think (to start out, at least) TFC will stick with the 3-5-2 for the first leg.

The wider midfield will allow Toronto to strike at the Red Bulls on the flanks, which should be useful given the narrow column they’ll be up against. That certainly worked out for TFC last time they played New York, as Justin Morrow can confirm.

Goalkeeper

Alex Bono

This almost unnecessary to include. Bono is the goalkeeper for the playoffs, and barring an injury (*furiously knocks on wood*), we’re probably not going to see Clint Irwin again this year, and possibly not ever in a TFC shirt.

Defence

Chris Mavinga, Drew Moor, Eriq Zavaleta

This is the back three I think Vanney will go with, even if it’s not the one I want to see. Moor probably stays in the side just because he’s played games recently, and Nick Hagglund hasn’t. Frankly, Moor’s looked a touch slow in the past couple games, but his intelligence and organizational ability is very valuable to the back line.

That said, if TFC are leaky in New Jersey, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hagglund step in for the home leg.

Midfield

Justin Morrow, Victor Vazquez, Michael Bradley, Marky Delgado, Nicolas Hasler

Not much to be said here. Morrow and Hasler will be a nice two-pronged threat from the flanks, forcing the Red Bulls to spread out a little more. With goalscoring ability on either side, TFC can comfortably go either direction to get around the midfield and into the final third.

As Oliver Platt wrote earlier this week, Bradley will probably be swarmed. Jesse Marsch’s team will definitely identify him as the key player they want to neutralize, so the onus might be on Delgado and Vazquez to track back a little bit more to help him out.

Forward

Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore

We saw some moments of brilliance from the striker combo in Atlanta, but there are definitely a few wrinkles of form to be ironed out. Hopefully these two can break through a couple of times for some away goals. It would also be nice to see Seba score from open play; as incredible as his free-kicks are, it’s not really a reliable strategy.

Projected starting XI: