Playoff soccer is back at BMO Field on Sunday, but it’s bringing a whole lot of rain with it. Toronto FC head into the second leg of this Eastern Conference semi-final with a 2-1 lead, so fans are fairly confident about this clash with the New York Red Bulls.
Last time the Red Bulls came to Toronto, though, it was hardly a dominant showing from the home team. Justin Morrow’s hat-trick may have led TFC to clinching the Supporters’ Shield, but the Reds weren’t on top all game despite the 4-2 scoreline.
Greg Vanney probably won’t have a lot of decision-making to do as far as picking his squad for Sunday, save perhaps one in the back three (I’ll get to that). His job for this weekend is definitely more on the tactical side of things.
Anyway, here’s how TFC will likely look for this rain-soaked affair.
He was fantastic at Red Bull Arena, as Mitchell Tierney explained earlier this week. Let’s hope he can be again on Sunday.
Chris Mavinga, Nick Hagglund, Eriq Zavaleta
I really don’t see Drew Moor starting this week. His injury status is uncertain after he left Monday’s game at half-time, but even if 100% healthy I think Hagglund would get the nod. Moor looked a step behind the past few games; he’s been outstripped by quicker forwards a couple times, and he was responsible for at least two penalties (although one of the calls was questionable at best).
Hagglund was excellent in the second half. He made a couple trademark headed clearances and generally looked very calm for someone playing his first game in weeks. At this point, he’s definitely the better option in between Mavinga and Zavaleta, both of whom also looked excellent in the last game.
Justin Morrow, Victor Vazquez, Michael Bradley, Marky Delgado, Steven Beitashour
No changes here. There’s an argument to be made for Nicolas Hasler drawing in at right wing-back, but Beitashour was too good in Jersey for that. If TFC didn’t have a lead in this tie, then I’d probably go with the more attack-minded Hasler, but that’s not a risk they need to take thanks to the away win. Beitashour is much more solid defensively; if the Red Bulls do score and TFC need a goal, Hasler could definitely come in later.
The rest of the group will not change after they all played well on Monday. It looks like Vazquez is fit to play after that cringe-inducing injury, so it’ll be a full-strength TFC.
Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore
It would be very nice to see Seba score from open play, as spectacular as his free-kicks are (but that might be nitpicky). He and Altidore were moving well together in the last game, and they’re definitely starting to find simultaneous form for the first time in months. Altidore’s move that led to the first TFC goal on Monday was excellent, and he made a handful of dominating runs toward the box.