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Predicting Toronto FC’s lineup against D.C. United

Expect a strong team for Greg Vanney as the Reds return from the break.

MLS: Canadian Championship-Ottawa Fury FC at Toronto FC Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

The Reds are back this weekend, returning from the international break to a home date with D.C. United. Toronto FC has had some time off to reflect on their most recent game, a disappointing 3-0 loss to the New England Revolution. Now, they have a chance to put that behind them decisively.

With pretty much every first-choice TFC player available minus Nick Hagglund and Tosaint Ricketts, look for Greg Vanney to field the strongest lineup he’s had for weeks. All the designated players should be back in action as Toronto looks to hold on to first place in the Eastern Conference.

Goalkeeper

Alex Bono

Bono was hung out to dry in New England; despite conceding three goals, WTR readers voted him TFC’s second-most effective player of the match. The defence was very sloppy, and although it surely wasn’t his best game, very little of the blame for that result rests on his shoulders.

Defence

Chris Mavinga, Drew Moor, Eriq Zavaleta

As long as Hagglund is out, this will continue to be Vanney’s best back three. Moor had a very poor night at Gillette Stadium, but his body of work speaks louder than one bad game. Whether he’s still feeling the effects of his injury or he’s still working to get up to full fitness, he’ll surely bounce back.

The same goes for both Mavinga and Zavaleta. I’m still not completely sold on the Frenchman, but he has been extremely effective in some recent games for TFC, especially the draw against New York Red Bulls. Zavaleta remains one of the more underrated defenders in MLS.

Midfield

Justin Morrow, Victor Vazquez, Michael Bradley, Marky Delgado, Steven Beitashour

Morrow likely gets the nod here over Raheem Edwards after the young Canadian had a tough run out against the Revs (and also played a half for Canada midweek). It’s probably best not to have Morrow sit out for too long; plus, Edwards will help with the Canadian quota in this week’s Voyageurs Cup game.

Vazquez was one of the few players to actually look good in New England. He’s playing so well that he’s beginning to enter the conversation of being the team’s most important player. Speaking of those, it’ll be good to have Bradley back. The Reds sorely missed him in their last game, and he should be feeling fairly confident at the moment after scoring that wondergoal against Mexico.

Delgado is back in the mix, too, after serving his one-match suspension against the Revs. He’s been better than both Armando Cooper and Jonathan Osorio, so for the foreseeable future it’ll be him in that spot (especially when Cooper and Osorio leave for the Gold Cup). There’s also a chance Benoit Cheyrou could play in that role, of course.

Over on the right side, there’s really no player who could replace Beitashour. He’s this team’s only real option at right wing-back, and a damn good one at that.

Forward

Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore

For the first time since May 4 against Orlando City, TFC will have both Giovinco and Altidore available. Arguably the best strike partnership in MLS, it’ll be excellent to see the pair reunited. Altidore and Tosaint Ricketts have held down the fort well in Seba’s absence, but it’s certainly time for the Italian to make a proper return to form.

The two play off each other very well, and a run out against D.C. United could be the perfect occasion to get their chemistry going again.

Projected starting XI: