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This one has a bit of pressure attached.
Having lost to FC Dallas on Saturday and with a difficult trip to Yankee Stadium to face New York City next, Toronto FC will suddenly find themselves looking down the barrel of a three-game losing streak if they are beaten by Orlando City tonight.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Reds are yet to lose consecutive games this season, bouncing back from all three of their previous defeats with a win.
TFC scored 10 goals and conceded just one in those games, though all of them came back in more familiar surroundings at BMO Field.
To keep that streak going, Greg Vanney will need to solve the problems that arose in Texas. With Justin Morrow and Raheem Edwards on international duty and Steven Beitashour in hospital, the coach handed Ashtone Morgan and Oyvind Alseth their first MLS starts of the season but Toronto did not function as hoped.
Vanney now has a dilemma: does he stick with the same team and hope for a response or change the personnel, system or both?
The most likely change is probably just to bring Tsubasa Endoh in for Alseth, but there is also the option of switching to a back four. Vanney has pointed out that using a four-man defence would still require selecting two full-backs, which would seem to shift the problem somewhere else rather than solve it, and I think he has a point.
That said, I wouldn’t mind them trying something like this:
On the surface of it, that seems like quite a drastic change in system and something that is all well and good on paper, but much more difficult to get everyone in tune with in practise.
When you actually consider the tendencies of the individual players, however, it’s not a huge departure from the usual:
By playing four at the back, less is required of Endoh defensively. That would allow him to focus on providing what Toronto lacked against Dallas - a source of width and support for the forwards in the attacking half. Vanney did something similar to this in the second leg of the Ottawa Fury tie when he brought on Beitashour to sit behind the sophomore.
Regardless of what the system looks like, it must be tempting to ask Chris Mavinga - just this once - to fill in at left-back. While he’s made it clear it’s not his favourite role, he has by far the most experience of any of the options on either side.
We’ll find out what the plan is in a few hours.
TV channel & live stream
TV: TSN 1, 3 & 4 (Canada), TV 27 (Orlando)
Stream: TSN Go (Canada), MLS Live (out of market)
Radio: TSN 1050 (Toronto), Real Radio 104.1 FM (Orlando)
Nick Hagglund remains sidelined for Toronto and Justin Morrow, Raheem Edwards, Armando Cooper, Jonathan Osorio and Tosaint Ricketts have left for the Gold Cup.
Orlando’s only potential question mark is Carlos Rivas, but he has trained this week after recovering from an ankle sprain.
Orlando: Bendik; Sutter, Redding, Spector, Toia; Johnson, Nocerino, Gil; Kaka; Larin, Rivas.
Toronto: Bono; Zavaleta, Moor, Mavinga; Endoh, Delgado, Bradley, Vazquez, Morgan; Altidore, Giovinco.