Most fans were in agreement this week when Toronto FC announced that both Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore will be skipping this weekend’s away game against the LA Galaxy. It’s not a particularly important game in the grand scheme of things, so it’s not worth it to risk their health and fly them all the way across the country.
This is also a nice opportunity for Greg Vanney to test his team’s depth in the run-up to the playoffs. A few regular bench players may get a chance to step in and start for the first time in a few weeks, as Oliver Platt discussed earlier this week.
Los Angeles aren’t a great team, sitting ninth in the Western Conference with 27 points, and their home record is the worst in the league. They’ve struggled at both ends of the pitch this season, with a -12 goal differential overall.
Just how much will Vanney experiment for this game? Perhaps he’d even consider a change in formation, particularly if the players he wants to give minutes to do not quite fit into the normal 3-5-2. For simplicity’s sake we’ll stick with that here, but who knows if that’s what we’ll see.
Why not? Alex Bono has put in some heavy minutes recently, and it’s good to give the backup some game time. If, God forbid, Bono were to get hurt, TFC wouldn’t want Irwin to be coming in too rusty. This game is being used to get players some minutes, and between the posts should be no different.
Chris Mavinga, Jason Hernandez, Eriq Zavaleta
I think either Drew Moor or Zavaleta gets the night off in LA. Some people were a little surprised Mavinga made the trip, but the fact that he did seems to imply he’ll be in this game. The back three will certainly be solid, so even if the midfield is a little weaker than usual TFC shouldn’t have too many problems defensively.
Raheem Edwards, Armando Cooper, Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio, Nicolas Hasler
My God. Four of the five players listed there are backups in their respective positions, yet that’s a midfield that could arguably start for most teams in MLS. I expect Bradley to stay in, since he made the trip and he never seems to willingly take a break.
As for the rest, there are several players who definitely could use a run out. Cooper hasn’t started since July 2 in Dallas, and he’s barely featured as a sub since. Osorio has made some impact sub appearances a little more frequently, and he seems to be in pretty good form this month, with September goals for both club and country.
Victor Vazquez will probably be on the bench, so he can be injected into the game late if TFC are in need of a goal. He’ll be their fallback in an experimental match.
On the wings, both Edwards and Hasler are excellent backups and should provide a lot of pace and attacking strength in this game. Edwards seems to have fallen out of favour a little bit recently, so it would be good to see him get a bit of a confidence boost by playing against the Galaxy.
Tosaint Ricketts, Jordan Hamilton
Typically it’s either Ricketts or Hamilton, not both. I can’t remember the last time both Seba and Jozy sat out a game. Up front might be the most interesting part of TFC’s lineup this weekend, because very little is known about how this strike partnership will work together.
It should be an interesting combination. Hamilton has made very good use of the limited time he’s gotten this season, so now could be a great opportunity for him to show he can do it without Giovinco.