After Tuesday’s dramatic Voyageurs Cup win with a virtually full-strength lineup, things begin to get a little dicier for Toronto FC this weekend as Greg Vanney will surely have a lot more thinking to do when he selects his team sheet. TFC is on the road to play FC Dallas in a heavyweight game that’s been circled on the calendar for a while.
Toronto will not only be without four players on international duty, they’ll also be missing Steven Beitashour with a potentially long-term injury. Thankfully, the Reds were granted a reprieve by Bruce Arena, who elected not to call up Michael Bradley or Jozy Altidore to his USA squad until the Gold Cup’s knockout stage.
Still, this away game will test TFC’s depth in several places, especially at right wing-back. There are several options, both for the immediate future and the long-term, for dealing with Beitashour’s absence.
Here’s a look at what Vanney could go with on Saturday.
Business as usual here. Clint Irwin played quite well against Montreal on Tuesday, with no real chance on the goal he allowed. There were a couple of hiccups in his distribution, though. The job is Bono’s to lose, anyway, for the foreseeable future.
Chris Mavinga, Drew Moor, Eriq Zavaleta
The first-choice back three is unaffected by the Gold Cup. The same trio that started midweek should probably be good to go again, at least to start. With Justin Morrow and Raheem Edwards both away, the depth at the back is harmed a little since Ashtone Morgan will probably start at left wing-back. Jason Hernandez should be on the bench for some second-half relief if necessary.
Ashtone Morgan, Victor Vazquez, Michael Bradley, Marky Delgado, Tsubasa Endoh
Morgan hasn’t had many opportunities with the first team this year, but he’ll start getting some in the next few weeks. He’s the obvious choice to step in on the left having picked up some minutes there with TFC II. At 26, he’ll need to show he is still capable of being an MLS regular before the end of the season.
The central three are the same as usual, of course. I’m keeping Delgado in his middle spot rather than putting him out on the wing, just because of how important he’s been in that triangle with Bradley and Vazquez. If Beitashour can’t be there, it’s best that the midfielder next to him is comfortable.
Endoh is still trying to figure out that wide role, especially the defensive side of it. This next run of games will surely be his last chance to impress. Armando Cooper is also an option for this game, despite his Panama call-up, so he could get a run out off the bench, but it probably makes more sense to start Endoh since he’ll be in the position more over the next few weeks.
Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore
These two will get a few games together in the next couple of weeks before Altidore likely goes off to join the USMNT. TFC will have to take advantage of that. Giovinco’s performance on Tuesday was 2015-esque, and it would be great to see him return to elite form alongside Altidore. It’s been hard for them to perfect their link-up play this season, with the pair kept apart far more than TFC would like. Any chance for them to play together is one that Vanney should take.