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Predicting Toronto FC’s lineup against the Colorado Rapids (Leg 1)

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How will the Reds set up in their first game of 2018?

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Toronto FC Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

We’re baaaack!

We’ve finally reached the point where we can stop arguing about transfer gossip, and instead start arguing about lineup decisions. Exciting, no?

Anyway, Toronto FC take on the Colorado Rapids Tuesday night to open the CONCACAF Champions League. As I’m sure you know, this is Leg 1 of a two-legged Round of 16 tie.

So, what will Greg Vanney do with his players? How many debuts will we see, if any? Personally, I’d guess we’re going to see some kind of 4-4-2. That’s what TFC played in for most of their preseason games, as far as I could tell. I think that’s probably the preferred formation at the moment.

It’s going to be COLD in Denver, so I’d hesitate to put any of the new players into the lineup, frankly.

Let’s get into it.

Goalkeeper

Alex Bono

Nothing has changed. Bono will play in goal on Tuesday, of this I’m sure. Maybe the only thing I’m sure about.

Defence

Justin Morrow, Eriq Zavaleta, Drew Moor, Nicolas Hasler

I originally thought van der Wiel was the only new signing we might see debut this week, just because he’s had a little more time to settle and integrate a bit with the squad. However, it looks like he’s stayed in Toronto because his child is likely to be born any day now. So, we might have to wait a bit to see him.

So, Nico Hasler slots in. I know he’s meant to be transitioning to more of a midfield role, but he’s probably the only particularly feasible option at right back for this game (unless Vanney throws Auro in there). Otherwise, TFC could go with the 3-5-2 just for this one, allowing Hasler a little more freedom to move forward.

I’m pretty confident that Morrow and Moor will be there. Chris Mavinga would also probably be in the first-choice back four, but he’s at home as well due to a nagging injury that he must’ve tweaked in preseason. Either Nick Hagglund or Zavaleta could fill in at centre-back, but Zavaleta was usually the coach’s preferred option in 2017. That’s still an extremely solid defensive line, and it should be able to handle the likes of Dominique Badji.

Midfield

Marky Delgado, Victor Vazquez, Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio

I think Auro and Ager Aketxe would be the typical starters here in place of Delgado and Osorio, although perhaps not in a diamond. Anyway, I expect Oso and Delgado to get in on Tuesday, just because they’ll be much more used to playing in cold temperatures than Auro.

I really like the idea of Vazquez in a sort of inverted triangle with the two forwards. That combination was deadly during the playoffs, and certainly could be again against a Colorado team that was probably better defensively than most teams that low in the standings.

Forward

Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore

I hope we get to write out that combination a lot this year (we didn’t last season). It sounds like the two — Seba especially have been hot as hell in preseason, and hopefully they can retain some of that heat in the frigid Denver air.

Projected Starting XI: