After a 0-0 draw at Real Salt Lake last weekend, the Reds will hope to have shaken off the early-season rust to a sufficient degree to score their first goal of the campaign and get a first win in Pennsylvania.
TFC have a good recent history against the Union, beating them 3-1 at BMO Field in last season’s Eastern Conference knockout round and winning by the same score the last time they made the trip to Philadelphia. On that occasion, Toronto had scored three goals by half-time.
It’s unlikely to be as easy this time - while it’s early days, Oguchi Onyewu started well at centre-back in a 0-0 draw at the Vancouver Whitecaps last weekend and Haris Medunjanin and youngster Derrick Jones formed a promising midfield combination. Up front, the main threat is left winger Chris Pontius, with new signing Jay Simpson looking to get off the mark in MLS and likely to continue at centre forward.
Beitashour a doubt
There’s been no word on whether Steven Beitashour actually has concussion or not, but having seemingly sat out training all week we wouldn’t expect to see him here. That said, if Beitashour is cleared Greg Vanney will have no problem with throwing a veteran in despite his absence from the preparation. He knows what’s expected of him.
If Beitashour is out, Vanney has a bit of a problem. The reserve right-back is Tsubasa Endoh, who does not have a minute of professional experience at the position but is being converted from a more attacking position in order to ensure there is a spot for him in the lineup every so often this year. Endoh has the qualities to adapt to that, but it will take time and throwing him in against Pontius in week two would be a big risk.
The alternatives are Marky Delgado, who has played the position before with mixed success, Justin Morrow with Chris Mavinga at left-back and possibly Nick Hagglund.
Update: Endoh starts.
Mavinga & Vazquez in contention
Speaking of Mavinga, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he starts today. Like Victor Vazquez, it’s going to come down to how Vanney feels about his fitness level at this point but eventually the Frenchman is going to be in the lineup.
In the section of the end-of-session scrimmage reporters were allowed to watch on Wednesday, Endoh, Vazquez and Mavinga were all in the nominal starting lineup playing against the scout team. That may just be Vanney trying to aid their settling-in process and does not necessarily mean they are definitely in today, but it would be fun to see TFC go for it with the likes of Jonathan Osorio and Tosaint Ricketts, starters for many MLS clubs, available in reserve.
Update II: Vazquez starts, Mavinga is on the bench.
Altidore takes on Onyewu
Onyewu actually played on the right side of the centre-back partnership in Vancouver, so it will be interesting to see if Jim Curtin switches that here so he can mark Jozy Altidore. That is a clash you imagine both Americans will relish, though Altidore will be hoping to get a little more help from the referee than he received against Chris Schuler last weekend.
As they often do for Toronto, the striker-against-centre-back matchups look favourable - but that was the case at Rio Tinto, as well, and the Reds were held off the scoresheet. They will be keen to ensure the service is a little higher quality this time around.
Philadelphia: Blake; Rosenberry, Onyewu, Marquez, Fabinho; Medunjanin, Jones; Herbers, Bedoya, Pontius; Simpson.
Toronto: Irwin; Zavaleta, Moor, Hagglund; Endoh, Cooper, Bradley, Vazquez, Morrow; Altidore, Giovinco.
How to watch
Venue: Talen Energy Stadium
Kick-off: 4.30pm ET
SB Nation opposition blog: Brotherly Game
TV: TSN 4 & 5
Radio: TSN 1050
Streaming: TSN Go