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Predicting Toronto FC’s lineup against the Montreal Impact

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Who will Greg Vanney start in the last 401 Derby of the season?

MLS: Montreal Impact at Toronto FC John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday afternoon, Toronto FC will be in Montreal to take on the Impact in the last 401 Derby of the season, and the penultimate match of 2018. A loss for the Impact will officially eliminate them from playoff contention, which would provide a bit of extra bragging-rights should the Reds take all 3 points in Montreal.

After another disappointing loss on Wednesday in Washington against Wayne Rooney and D.C. United, Greg Vanney’s men will be playing for nothing more than pride in this one, and will be hoping to finish their season on a high, as a 401 Derby win and stopping Atlanta from breaking their points record in their final match (ATL have to beat the Chicago Fire to tie the record and draw or win against TFC to break it) would be small victories for them after a long and disappointing campaign.

I think Greg Vanney will opt for something along the lines of the ever-changing 3-5-2/5-2-3 hybrid formation that he played against D.C. United.

Goalkeeper

Alex Bono

Bono had another disappointing night in Washington, picking up the loss following a Wayne Rooney free kick. Usually, I’d say that a goal off a perfectly-placed free kick isn’t the fault of the goalkeeper, but this time is different. In the replays on TSN, you could clearly see that Bono had a very poor view of where Wayne Rooney was, as he was moving his neck from side to side, and didn’t start moving until the ball was almost into the goal. He made a nice diving effort and almost made the save, but if he had been standing in a better position, a few feet to his left, he would have had a better chance to prevent the goal.

Defence

Auro, Gregory van der Wiel, Drew Moor, Eriq Zavaleta, Justin Morrow

TFC have allowed a ridiculous 61 goals this season. The club record is 62, set in the 2012 season. This season has been filled with injuries among the defenders, leaving them regularly without their best group, and it is clear that TFC need to bring in 2 or 3 players to improve their backline (and its depth).

Chris Mavinga could miss this one through the injury that kept him out of the D.C. game, opening the door for one of Eriq Zavaleta or Nick Hagglund to audition for next season’s squad. Both have been sub-par this season and could move on this offseason (Hagglund to his hometown club FC Cincinnati in the expansion draft?).

Midfield

Michael Bradley, Liam Fraser, Jonathan Osorio

The midfield pairing of Michael Bradley and Liam Fraser looked great against DCU, as both showed off their ability to step into challenges defensively and spray passes around the field while on offense. They missed a real offensive threat in front of them though as Jonathan Osorio was away with Canada and Victor Vazquez was ruled out for the season with injury. With Osorio likely to be back for this one, TFC should be better going foward than last week, when they played three strikers and no natural attacking midfielders.

Forward

Sebastian Giovinco, Lucas Janson

Seba missed out on the D.C. United game completely last week, not even making the bench, despite being left out of both Italy games during a rare call-up to the national team. He should be rested and ready to score against a Montreal side that he’s had success against in recent years:

MLS: Toronto FC at Montreal Impact Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Janson did start in Washington but was never really noticed and at times, I forgot he was even on the pitch. He will need to have a bigger impact on this match if TFC are to beat Montreal (pun intended).

With Jozy Altidore expected to need surgery on his ever-injured foot, I doubt he’ll start this match or the last one of the season against Atlanta.