Unfortunately, this year’s CNE game falls on a Wednesday for Toronto FC. It won’t quite have the glamour of last year’s Saturday showdown against the Montreal Impact, but this game against the Philadelphia Union still has a buzz around it. TFC are riding a high right now, boasting a sizeable cushion atop the Supporters’ Shield standings and coming off a huge 3-1 win in Chicago on the weekend.
Philadelphia are at best a playoff bubble team, currently six points back of the Impact for the final spot. They haven’t really improved since the last time TFC played them, way back at the start of the season, but they did beat FC Dallas 3-1 earlier this month, so they’re certainly capable of a big performance.
The Reds haven’t had a midweek game in a while - after having so many earlier in the season - so they’ve been able to play with an almost full-strength team for most of the past month. This week, it might be time for a little squad rotation to give a couple players a run out before a more difficult game on the weekend in Montreal.
Alex Bono was superb on Saturday, save for a few miskicks, but Irwin really hasn't played much of late. It might be time to give the No. 1 keeper a night off after all the great work he’s put in recently.
Chris Mavinga, Drew Moor, Eriq Zavaleta
Just like Bono, TFC’s three defenders were all excellent against the Fire except for a couple of moments where Nemanja Nikolic missed his shots anyway. It seems that this is the most likely defensive three for the playoffs, just because of how much more they’ll have played together with Nick Hagglund out injured.
I could be wrong, but these three will have developed some great chemistry as the team’s back line through the home stretch of the regular season.
Raheem Edwards, Victor Vazquez, Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio, Steven Beitashour
After his return appearance off the bench on Saturday, it’s very exciting to have Beitashour back in the equation. He looked great in his brief outing, playing with a ton of energy. He looks pumped to be back out there. I think he’ll get the start on Wednesday in the arguably lighter game, especially with Kyle Fisher and the Impact coming up on Saturday. Look for him to play 60 to 70 minutes against Philly.
Justin Morrow might be due for a break, just because Edwards probably needs to get back in at some point. The same goes for Marky Delgado and Osorio; Delgado was outstanding against Chicago in my opinion, but he’s played a lot of football recently.
Sebastian Giovinco, Tosaint Ricketts
Jozy Altidore has had a few sub-standard games recently despite the rest of the team’s good form. Whether it’s just a rut or he’s feeling fatigued, it might be time to give him a game off. Bringing a rested Altidore off the bench against a tired away team could be a great way to get him back on track.
Ricketts and Giovinco are also starting to find the chemistry I think they’ve previously been missing. TFC’s final goal on Saturday came from some great communication between the two of them; we’ve seen that kind of thing from Seba and Jordan Hamilton (like Hamilton’s near-post headed goal off a corner against D.C. United), but not as much from this pair.