This weekend’s game is a date that’s been circled on the MLS calendar for a while. Toronto FC are in Bridgeview on Saturday for their third top-of-the-table clash in a month, hoping to steal points from the Chicago Fire on the road.
TFC’s lineup isn't likely to be too different from the one that beat the Portland Timbers 4-1 a week ago. In fact, the only major change will probably be Nick Hagglund’s absence at the back due to the knee injury he suffered early in that game.
Here’s how Greg Vanney might lay out his side at Toyota Park.
I actually can’t remember the last time TFC conceded a goal that could truly be blamed on Bono. He’s been rock solid this season, and deserving of the top job.
Chris Mavinga, Drew Moor, Eriq Zavaleta
Vanney's hand was pretty much forced on this one, even though it’s a back three he may have just gone with anyway. Assuming he’s available after missing last weekend for the birth of his child, Moor should slot back into the middle of TFC's defence.
I actually think Zavaleta is one of TFC’s most underappreciated players. He rarely gets the credit Mavinga or Moor get despite being consistently impressive the entire season. He’s pretty much always been there this year, and often goes unnoticed because his best games are also typically his quietest.
Justin Morrow, Victor Vazquez, Michael Bradley, Marky Delgado, Nicolas Hasler
We might see some squad rotation in the middle of the week against Philadelphia, but I think this game in Chicago is a major priority for TFC. They likely won’t worry too much about resting players for Wednesday’s game, opting instead for the best possible lineup.
My top-drawer journalism skills (or rather, Instagram scrolling) tell me that Steven Beitashour travelled with the team — he posted a picture of himself on the team bus on Friday, presumably in Chicago. I highly doubt he’s actually available for the game, having just returned to training this week, but he’s probably starting to get back into the routine.
I really liked Hasler’s performance against Portland (as did WhoScored, which gave him a 7.1 rating for the game). He looked to be quick and accurate with his crossfield long balls. A couple of times he switched the play over to Morrow impressively, giving TFC a lot of space to attack in. Hopefully he continues to get better as his teammates’ confidence in him grows and he sees the ball more.
Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore
Seba looked pretty sharp last weekend, with a number of good little plays in and around the box. His setup for Vazquez’s goal was pretty. He always seems much happier when he scores a goal or two of his own though, so hopefully he can bang one in for the Reds on Saturday.
WTR readers weren't particularly happy with Altidore’s performance in that game, giving him the only negative rating on the team. I don’t know if I’d be that harsh, but it was certainly a quiet night for him. Fortunately, the team is deep enough to still score four goals despite one of their strikers having an off game.