For the first time in a while, Toronto FC won’t have to worry about resting players for a midweek game this Saturday. After they play the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium, they’ll have a much-welcomed two weeks off to rest up.
This comes at an opportune time for Greg Vanney, who will be thanking his lucky stars that he doesn’t have to rotate his squad even more than he already has to. Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore are away on national team duty, Marky Delgado is suspended and both Nick Hagglund and (probably) Tosaint Ricketts are out with injury. That’s a lot of lineup decisions already made for him, so it’s a good thing TFC don’t have a midweek game to think about after this match.
Unfortunately, this game will be on turf. That’s yet another thing to consider for this team selection, with Sebastian Giovinco’s health status uncertain.
Despite all that, TFC will probably have a pretty strong team for this game. Their lineup in New England might resemble the one from Wednesday’s game against Ottawa, especially with the extra time to rest after.
I’ll keep saying it until I’m proven wrong. Bono is currently this team’s starting goalkeeper, as far as I’m concerned. He’s performed better than Clint Irwin this month, and has earned his stay in TFC’s net. The debate may heat up again after the international break but for now, it’s Bono.
Chris Mavinga, Drew Moor, Eriq Zavaleta
This is the same back three that played on Wednesday, but it’s also the best line TFC have at their disposal, especially without Hagglund. Mavinga has really come into his own after his rude awakening against Atlanta, with nine clearances in the past two games. He’s doing an excellent job in the box and has recently started to track forward a little bit more.
It’s so nice having Moor back in the fold. He commands that back line exceptionally well, and his presence will be crucial this weekend in Bradley’s absence. Moor is generally one of the most reliable centre-backs in MLS, with strong distribution toward the midfield.
Zavaleta’s been flying under the radar a little, but he too is having a great year. He’s a good tackler out on that right side and while he might not be the best passer on the team, he usually manages to play it to safety through Moor, Bradley, or Steven Beitashour.
Justin Morrow, Victor Vazquez, Benoit Cheyrou, Jonathan Osorio, Steven Beitashour
There are really only two spots in this midfield five that aren’t locked down for Saturday. Vazquez is as important to this team as anyone, Cheyrou usually slots in there when Bradley is missing, and TFC don’t really have a backup for Beitashour anyway.
The left wingback position is pretty much a toss-up between Morrow and Raheem Edwards at this point. The former is a little more reliable and defensively sound, while the latter probably provides a little more jump going forward. The trouble is, if they didn’t play the same position they’d probably both be in the team.
For an away game like this, Vanney will probably opt for Morrow to play a tad more defensively. Or, he could put Edwards at wing-back and play Morrow in the back three – but then Mavinga would be bounced. Edwards will probably feature at some point in this game, having largely missed out on the last two, but I’m not sure if he’ll be in the starting XI. It’s a good problem to have, isn’t it?
Osorio’s spot is the other I’m not sure about. With Marky Delgado suspended, that position comes down to either him or Armando Cooper - and Cooper may too have taken off for international duty. Regardless, Osorio seems to be trending upward after a bad start to the season, with Cooper failing to impress at all really of late.
Vazquez might be the most undroppable player in the team at this point. TFC have never really had a player like him, with his impeccable ability to choose the right pass. He and Cheyrou together will, hopefully, help soften the blow of missing Bradley.
Sebastian Giovinco, Jordan Hamilton
Even though this game is on turf, I think Seba gets the start here. New England’s brand new FieldTurf is one of the better artificial surfaces in the league, so it’s not as if they’ll be playing at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. It probably won’t be for more than an hour, but it might be good to give Giovinco a chance to ease back into things, especially with the break after.
Hamilton is the obvious choice to complement Seba, with Ricketts questionable after coming off midweek. Personally, I think he’s the better option to play with Giovinco anyway; I’m not sure how well Ricketts links up with the Italian. He only played a half on Wednesday, so he should be fit.