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Predicting Toronto FC’s lineup against Orlando City

How might the Reds set up for this midweek date with Jason Kreis’ team?

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Toronto FC Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

As I suggested in my piece about what to watch for in this game, Toronto FC’s first midweek game of 2017 means they could be looking to rotate the squad a little bit. The next two matches are important for different reasons: first, a key home date with a conference rival, then an emotional trip to Seattle to try to avenge December’s MLS Cup loss.

Logic would dictate that Wednesday is the more important match for the Reds, especially given that it’s at BMO Field. Despite the sentimental value of sticking it to the Sounders (believe me, that would be fantastic), it’s crucial that TFC start piling up some points against Eastern teams to climb the table.

What might we see on Wednesday night then? If I have to guess (and I do), I’d say Greg Vanney goes with a similar side to the one that beat Houston Dynamo last Friday, but not quite an identical one.

Goalkeeper

Alex Bono

Duh. There’s really no question about this one. Until Clint Irwin is fit to return, Bono will be in goal for TFC. He picked up another clean sheet against Houston, and hasn’t given fans all that much to complain about in his play.

Defence

Justin Morrow, Nick Hagglund, Eriq Zavaleta

The back three are probably unchanged from Friday. Greg Vanney confirmed that Chris Mavinga is “back in the fold” having recovered from his injury, but it’s more likely he slots in on Saturday, if at all. The trio of Morrow, Hagglund and Zavaleta has performed admirably in Drew Moor’s absence, and there’s no reason to change it now. If fatigue begins to show late in the game, Mavinga could come in, but he probably won’t start this one.

Zavaleta will probably need a rest at some point, as one of the only TFC players to play 90 minutes of every game, but not yet.

Midfield

Raheem Edwards, Victor Vazquez, Michael Bradley, Armando Cooper, Marky Delgado

In midfield is where we’re likely to see some changes this week. Steven Beitashour had a bit of a tough outing on Friday, and at times seemed to disappear a bit in the offensive buildup. Delgado, playing too well to sit, could slide over to the right and allow Cooper (or Osorio) to enter the fray. It’s not ideal, as Delgado will be a little further away from the forwards and less able to set them up as he has been, but TFC will want him on the field. Cooper or Osorio could slide over instead, but that seems a little more unlikely.

Edwards has also been playing far too well to be taken out of the lineup. Named to MLS’ Team of the Week for his performance against Houston, a young player with energy like his is likely to stay in. His link-up play with Vazquez has looked very good so far. Vazquez, too, will probably stay in the lineup on Wednesday; Vanney subbing him off toward the end of Friday’s game suggests he wanted to keep a little extra fuel in the tank for the Orlando game.

Finally, Bradley didn’t quite turn in a vintage performance on Friday, with a couple of very dangerous botched passes in the first half, but he’s still the glue that keeps TFC together. As long as he’s healthy, the workhorse captain will be in the lineup.

Forward

Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore

The typical strike tandem, now in their best form of the season, probably won’t be changed to start this game. Altidore came off for the last 10 minutes against Houston, and Seba is Seba — he’ll play as many minutes as he can, when healthy.

Giovinco seems to love playing against Orlando, with plenty of past success against them. He’d surely love to add some goals to his total in this game, as would Altidore. One (or both) of the trio may come off early if the game is settled, to preserve them for Saturday’s game (where Giovinco would surely like to make a statement).

Projected starting XI