Welcome to Toronto FC’s first two-game week (hopefully first of many). The Reds play the Colorado Rapids on Tuesday with a relatively comfortable 2-0 aggregate lead, then their MLS home opener on Saturday against the Columbus Crew.
So, the major question for Tuesday’s CONCACAF Champions League fixture is this: do TFC rest some players, saving them for the weekend? Or, do they save players on Saturday, since they could well be playing Tigres just three days later?
Personally, I’m guessing we see a bit of a mix. I think TFC’s priority is the Champions League at the moment, meaning they might lean toward having their strongest side available to them in the quarterfinals (if they get there, I suppose).
Crazy? Yeah, sorta crazy. But last year when TFC played Irwin’s old team, Greg Vanney gave him the start. Plus, the Reds have Columbus coming up on the weekend. I don’t know, I just wouldn’t be too surprised to see Irwin get a start. Always good to keep your backup fresh, just in case right?
Justin Morrow, Drew Moor, Nick Hagglund, Gregory van der Wiel
The nice thing about TFC playing four at the back is that they pretty much have two entirely different units they could play. Morrow’s the only position there where the Reds don’t have an extremely close backup, so maybe Ashtone Morgan gets the Colorado game.
If Chris Mavinga is still injured, maybe TFC wait until Saturday with him. That means they probably go with him and Eriq Zavaleta against the Crew, which I think is a pretty balanced way to do it.
According to his Instagram, van der Wiel’s partner gave birth to their daughter on Saturday. The Dutchman was in training on Monday, so I wouldn’t rule out his inclusion on Tuesday. A comfortable tie in what’ll apparently be decent weather could be a nice way to ease him into the side. Auro could probably play there at right back on Saturday, then.
Marky Delgado, Jay Chapman, Victor Vazquez, Jonathan Osorio
Kind of throwing darts at a wall here. I think it might be a little early for Ager Aketxe to start, so he could probably take Vazquez’s spot on Saturday. That said, TFC will definitely want him if they are playing Tigres next week. Maybe a short appearance in both the next two games?
I’d gamble on Bradley being held out. The absolute last thing TFC want is for him to get another yellow card and miss out on the next CCL game. I don’t really know who his nominal backup is at the moment with Benoit Cheyrou gone, so I’ve thrown Chapman in there. It would be cool to see a start for Chapman, wouldn’t it?
Delgado would probably be better-suited to playing at the base of a diamond, though. He’s a little more reliable defensively, and can play a pass out of the back pretty well.
Sebastian Giovinco, Jordan Hamilton
If you’re going to split up the two first-choice strikers, you definitely save Tosaint Ricketts for Columbus. He eats them alive.
I’m not actually certain TFC will split up Seba and Jozy Altidore, of course. But it might make sense to save one of them. Still, it is the very beginning of the season, so both are probably fresh enough to just keep going. That might be the nice part of having the CCL this early in the year.