After Wednesday’s disaster, Toronto FC could really do with a strong performance this weekend. Unfortunately, there are few possible fixtures that are more inauspicious than this one.
The Reds have a pretty rough history at Gillette Stadium and remain winless there since 2013. The New England Revolution handed TFC a sound defeat the last time they visited Foxborough, beating them 3–0 back in June.
Sebastian Giovinco will be absent again this weekend, and it looks like Jozy Altidore might be missing as well. Hopefully Victor Vazquez is fit to get back into the lineup; his presence was visibly missed against Montreal.
If the two strikers are again out of the equation, Greg Vanney will probably stick to the single-striker formation he’s been using, with someone playing just off Tosaint Ricketts up front.
For the past few games I’ve been guessing Clint Irwin would get a game. That would make a lot of sense this time around as well, especially after Bono’s gaffe on the first goal against Montreal. However, I have a feeling it would do more harm than good to Bono’s confidence to take him out of the lineup after one bad game.
Since he’s a goalkeeper, he should be well able to play again. This would be a good time for him to pull it back as TFC look to lock up the Shield.
Chris Mavinga, Drew Moor, Jason Hernandez
Just as I’ve done with Irwin the past couple times around, I’ve picked Hernandez to start the last couple games. I think it might actually happen this time. Poor Eriq Zavaleta was a major scapegoat after Wednesday’s game, with a couple of bad mistakes leading to first half goals.
He could probably do with a night off, just to regroup a little bit. He’ll get back into the fold next week, when he’ll have to redeem himself. Once Nick Hagglund comes back, it’ll be Zavaleta he’s competing with for a spot in the starting XI. Zavaleta will have a chance to stake a claim to his spot next week.
Justin Morrow, Jonathan Osorio, Michael Bradley, Marky Delgado, Nicolas Hasler
I’ve picked Hasler to come in on the right side here, and I think that’s the most likely scenario. Something I’d be interested to see, though, is what Hasler could do in the spot just off the striker’s shoulder. He’s played all over the pitch for Liechtenstein, and that could be a decent position for him to use his pace and creativity.
Nonetheless, I think it’ll be him on the right, with Delgado and Osorio in the typical midfield positions (Victor Vazquez will shift up a little bit to link the midfield to Ricketts). Morrow was one of the lone bright spots in TFC’s performance on Wednesday, in my opinion, so he should likely get into the XI again.
That said, Raheem Edwards did have some good moments in that game after coming in. He could also get a look — Morrow could probably move to the back three if Edwards comes in on the wing.
Victor Vazquez, Tosaint Ricketts
TFC’s chances of winning this weekend improve dramatically if Vazquez is involved. The loss to Montreal highlighted just how important he is to this team’s success (almost worryingly so). Hopefully he’s over that flu bug he was battling.
Ricketts was easily the most redeemable aspect of that Montreal disaster. He scored a brace for the second game in a row, filling in admirably for the absent strikers. For much of the second half, he seemed like one of TFC’s only players still working hard. This run of games is very well deserved (although I would really like to know what Jordan Hamilton did for Vanney to ignore him so thoroughly).