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On paper, this looks like a good matchup for Toronto FC.
They are back at home and have had a week of uninterrupted rest and preparation, even getting the chance to stretch their legs at BMO Field during Wednesday’s open practice.
And they face a team in the Portland Timbers that tends to field an attacking lineup wherever they go, rarely bunkering - for better or worse.
That’s not to say it will be easy. Portland are in the middle of the Western Conference playoff race and though Fanendo Adi and Liam Ridgewell are doubts due to injury, the three-man band of Diego Valeri, Darlington Nagbe and Sebastian Blanco is one of the most dangerous in MLS.
But as we have seen against New York City FC, Chicago and Orlando, among others, TFC enjoy little more than hosting a few big-name players on their own turf.
It will be interesting to see, at this point, whether Greg Vanney simply rolls out his best starting XI whenever possible or throws the occasional selection surprise into the mix.
He has the luxury of naming his best starters in 10 of the 11 positions on the field at the moment should he wish to do so but there are a number of players beyond that looking to stake their claim and who could still play important parts in this season yet.
By not biting on inevitable attempts to prise away players such as Armando Cooper and Jonathan Osorio leading up to the trade deadline while their value is at its lowest, Toronto have shown that they want to keep as many options and as much depth as possible at their disposal as they prepare to make a run at the MLS Cup.
But for those players to be useful and play a part between now and season’s end an olive branch needs to be extended to them even if they are not, on current form, meriting a place in the lineup.
Those switches and experiments will probably come further down the line. For now, TFC are unbeaten in five but have only won one of four, and Chicago’s trip to Columbus means this weekend could be an opportunity to strengthen their grip on first place.
Kick-off: 6 p.m.
Venue: BMO Field, Toronto
TV channel & live stream
TV: TSN 2 (Canada), Root Sports Northwest (USA)
Stream: TSN Go (Canada), MLS Live (out of market)
Radio: TSN 1050 (Toronto), 750 The Game (Portland)
Oyvind Alseth could return after a foot injury for Toronto but Steven Beitashour will be out for another week or two and Benoit Cheyrou will not be back until late September at the earliest.
On the Portland side, Roy Miller is suspended and Gbenga Arokoyo and Chance Myers are out. Fanendo Adi, Liam Ridgewell, Vytas, Darren Mattocks and Marco Farfan are all listed as questionable.
Toronto: Bono; Zavaleta, Moor, Mavinga; Hasler, Delgado, Bradley, Vazquez, Morrow; Altidore, Giovinco.
Portland: Gleeson; Powell, Mabiala, Olum, Vytas; Guzman, Chara; Nagbe, Valeri, Blanco; Ebobisse.