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Predicting Toronto FC’s lineup against Tigres (Leg 2)

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Who should start in one of the biggest matches in TFC history?

On Tuesday night Toronto FC will be in Monterrey, Mexico for the second leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal against Liga MX powerhouse Tigres UANL. After coming back from 1-0 down to win 2-1 in the first leg, Toronto will be hoping to score a quick away goal to open up Tigres, and try to hold possession in the midfield to seal a berth in the semifinals. These tactics worked well for Toronto last season, so for this match I predict that we’ll see the 3-5-2 formation that was used last week in leg 1.

Goalkeeper

Alex Bono

Bono looked good last week, only allowing a superb goal from forward Eduardo Vargas. Other than the goal he allowed, he had a solid performance, making one save and catching three crosses.

Defence

Nick Hagglund, Drew Moor, Chris Mavinga

In the 3-5-2, the best possible back three in my opinion are Hagglund, Moor and Mavinga. The latter two both started last week but Greg Vanney opted to play Eriq Zavaleta and bring on Nick Hagglund late in the match, when Zavaleta picked up a knock.

This time I think it’ll be Hagglund getting the start over Zavaleta, due to his physical presence, something that will be crucial against a tough Tigres side. Drew Moor had an important role in last week’s match, passing the ball to Sebastian Giovinco, who set up Jonathan Osorio’s match-winning goal.

Midfield

Gregory van der Wiel, Marky Delgado, Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio, Justin Morrow

After a disappointing first game against Columbus, van der Wiel looked much better in Leg 1 last week. He showed us more of his attacking prowess, sprinting up the right flank on multiple occasions to deliver crosses into the box. A few members of the Waking the Red staff, including myself, had a roundtable discussion about who should be starting — van der Wiel or Auro (which you can read here), let us know your opinion.

Morrow also had a decent game last week, playing all 90 minutes and taking a shot at the Tigres goal, but it was the midfield trio of Bradley, Delgado and Osorio that impressed on the night. Bradley was his usual self, anchoring the midfield and helping to defend, but also broke forward in the second half and served up a delicious cross to Jozy Altidore, who didn’t expect the ball to reach him, and wasn’t able to control it.

Marky Delgado made a start in the first leg after being limited to a substitute appearance against Columbus and looked sharp on both sides of the ball. He made a couple of interceptions and also set up Altidore’s game-tying goal. His midfield partner Osorio scored the winning goal, a beautiful backheel from a Giovinco cross in the dying moments of the match.

Forward

Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore

Seba has looked very sharp in the early stages of the season, but has only picked up a single goal, a volley in the first leg of Toronto’s CCL tie against the Colorado Rapids. He assisted the goal that won the first leg, as well as taking 6 shots. He had a great chance to score in the 31st minute, but his shot was stopped by Tigres goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman.

Altidore scored the first Toronto goal in the 60th minute, a low-driven shot under the keeper, tying the match at 1-1.

Bench

Clint Irwin, Eriq Zavaleta, Nicolas Hasler, Auro, Ager Aketxe, Victor Vazquez, Tosaint Ricketts

This bench and the substitutes that Greg Vanney uses should be almost exactly the same as last week, but I think that Zavaleta will be dropped from the starting lineup in favour of Hagglund. Vazquez has reportedly made the trip to Mexico with the side, although it is unlikely that he will play very many minutes, if any at all because he is apparently still hurt from an incident in the Columbus game.