Toronto FC return home on Friday with hopes of bouncing back from a disappointing loss in Columbus. Unfortunately they’ll have to do it against the Chicago Fire, arguably one of the hottest teams in MLS.
With Drew Moor still out of the lineup, injuries are beginning to take their toll as the season progresses. Unless Greg Vanney hints at anything else, though, it’s hard to imagine that TFC will set up in anything other than the usual 3-5-2. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how Vanney might organize his squad for Friday’s game.
Alex Bono. With Clint Irwin out, this isn’t really a question. Bono has proven to be a decent backup, with flashes of brilliance at times. His past two games against Columbus and Atlanta have looked a little nervous, with four goals against and shaky distribution, but he’s capable of shutting it down.
Justin Morrow. With Moor out, Morrow has shifted back from his wing-back role to join the back three. It takes him out of the attacking build-up a little, which is a loss, but he is a natural left-back and so the logical choice.
Nick Hagglund. Slotting into the middle of the back three, Hagglund actually played pretty well in the loss against Columbus. Vanney went back to him after Chris Mavinga struggled against Atlanta and with both Mavinga and Jason Hernandez ruled out with injuries, Hagglund’s spot is secure - although it probably would’ve been anyway.
Eriq Zavaleta. Zavaleta is beginning to develop a solid partnership at the back with Hagglund. He may have lost the aerial battle that led to Columbus’ second goal, but he’s played well enough throughout the start of this season to secure his starting spot.
Raheem Edwards. He played very well in his last home start against Sporting Kansas City and is probably the best option to replace Justin Morrow at left-wing-back. His pace and creativity can help spark the attack.
Victor Vazquez. With a nice assist on TFC’s only goal last weekend, Vazquez is starting to look like the attacking player the team needs him to be. Sitting high near the forwards, he can provide the key passes.
Michael Bradley. The skipper has settled very well into his solo role as holding midfielder. He remains an excellent passer at the back of midfield, and TFC will rely on his distribution at the start of most moves forward.
Armando Cooper. He was switched off pretty early last weekend, but made a couple of key passes. Cooper still seems to have the edge over Jonathan Osorio, but if things go south quickly on Friday that could change.
Steven Beitashour. The right-wing-back has adapted to his new position well this season, no longer playing that purely defensive role. He’s played more than 80 minutes in all but one of TFC’s games, and that will not change this weekend.
Sebastian Giovinco. It looked like Seba might be returning to form after scoring against Atlanta, but Columbus was another tough one. Giovinco had eight shots in the last game, but only one on target. Hopefully he can get his scoring touch back this week.
Jozy Altidore. The big forward is probably in the best form of anyone on the team. Altidore scored his third goal of 2017 against the Crew, continuing to be one of the only TFC players who seems able to score at the moment.
Projected starting XI:
What do you think? Let us know what lineup you’d go with in the comments.