Just about 48 hours after drawing 1-1 in Montreal, Toronto FC will have to somehow field a team to play the New England Revolution on Friday night. This will be one of the hardest teams of the season for Greg Vanney to pick, with several key players featuring on Wednesday.
New England beat TFC just a few weeks ago, so the Reds would certainly like to make a statement by hitting back hard. They’ll need to control Diego Fagundez a little better this time. The good news is that the Revs are pretty much a home-only team this year. They’re 0-5-3 on the road, performing much better on Gillette Stadium’s artificial turf.
It looks like Vanney’s reneging a little bit on his own opinion, hinting that it’s not out of the question for some players who started on Wednesday to feature again.
Also backtracked a bit on his position earlier in the week that no one would start both games. #TFCLive— Oliver Platt (@plattoli) June 22, 2017
That said, if anyone who played heavy minutes in Montreal also makes Friday’s XI, I’m not sure they’ll be available again for the second leg with the Impact next Tuesday. TFC’s attempt to go for the kill by bringing on Sebastian Giovinco and Victor Vazquez in the second half on Wednesday didn’t work out, but hopefully they’re close enough to 100% after about half an hour of play.
Michael Bradley is suspended for this one, so at least one decision’s already made. Vanney’s suggested that he could stray away from the 3-5-2 formation for this game, but frankly I’m not sure what that would look like. It’s possible he deploys Giovinco as a lone striker with Tosaint Ricketts unlikely to be fit enough to start.
This is going to be hard enough, so for simplicity’s sake let’s assume it’s a 3-5-2 or a 3-5-1-1.
Clint Irwin started on Wednesday, and may have reinforced Bono’s place as the number one keeper. He had excellent moments, but was also caught off his line a couple times, probably should’ve caught the shot that led to Montreal’s goal and gave up a penalty. Bono seems to be the man, for now at least.
Justin Morrow, Jason Hernandez, Eriq Zavaleta
This one’s a little tricky. Of Zavaleta and Chris Mavinga, I’d say it’s more likely that the former is able to play. He covered less ground on Wednesday, primarily occupied with marking Ignacio Piatti. Mavinga, on the other hand, tracked farther forward and might’ve used up a little more fuel.
I think Morrow might move into the back three for this one. Raheem Edwards was subbed off in the 79th minute in Montreal; that’s not much of a rest, but I’d have to think he could play the first half or so.
I have no idea how Drew Moor’s health is after his absence, but I’m a little wary of him being overworked. I think he’s the most likely to sit this one out.
Raheem Edwards, Victor Vazquez, Benoit Cheyrou, Jonathan Osorio, Armando Cooper
Vazquez and Osorio could both be good to go, with the Spaniard coming on to replace Oso in the 62nd minute. Osorio might be starting to creep back into form; still not regular starting quality, but good enough to get a few opportunities in the next few weeks.
Whenever Bradley is unavailable, it’s usually Cheyrou who steps in to take his spot. Unfortunately, it didn’t go so well last time TFC took on the Revs, but he’s shown on several occasions how capable he can be as the defensive midfielder. I’m not totally confident with how he’ll be able to link up with Vazquez, but he’ll have to be sufficient defensively to control Fagundez and Lee Nguyen through the middle.
As for Cooper, he’s not in good form at all, but I like him better in that wing-back role than Tsubasa Endoh. Steven Beitashour played a tough 90 minutes at Saputo, and he’ll be needed for the second leg on Tuesday.
Sebastian Giovinco, Jordan Hamilton
There’s probably nothing I want more right now than for Seba to score a goal or two. It’s been a tough month and a half for him, and he’s got to be pretty frustrated at the moment. He didn’t look good in his brief appearance in Montreal, and although he had a pair of nice assists against D.C. United, he struggled to find spots to shoot from.
Hamilton, like Osorio, played just 62 minutes on Wednesday, and without many fit options in midfield, I think two strikers is the better option than, say, Vazquez playing behind Giovinco (unless Jay Chapman fits into Vazquez’s regular midfield role).
Regardless, I think Hamilton works well with Giovinco (better than Tosaint Ricketts). That should be a decent combination.