On Wednesday night Toronto FC take on Mexican team Tigres UANL in CONCACAF Champions League action at BMO Field, just days after a disappointing 2-0 loss to the Columbus Crew to open their 2018 MLS campaign.
Although they will be on short rest, Toronto will likely put out their best available lineup, or close to it, to give themselves the best shot at advancing to the semifinals. I expect that we’ll again see the 4-4-2 diamond formation that Greg Vanney has been using so far this season as it provides the balance of attack and defence that the Reds will need to hold off a tough Tigres side.
Bono has been worked a lot in the early stages of the season, having played all three games of Toronto’s campaign to date, but will still likely get the nod over Clint Irwin. Irwin is rested, but Bono is match-tested and has looked good in the games that he’s appeared in. Toronto FC will need to put out a strong lineup to beat Tigres, so putting your number one keeper out makes the most sense. Expect Irwin to get a game soon though, perhaps March 17 against the Montreal Impact.
Justin Morrow, Chris Mavinga, Drew Moor, Gregory van der Wiel
This is likely Toronto FC’s best back four and although van der Wiel, Mavinga and Morrow all started against Columbus, there is a need for Toronto to put forth their best lineup against a dangerous Tigres attack. Nick Hagglund has a stronger physical presence than Drew Moor, especially in the air, but Moor brings leadership and organizational qualities to the table that were lacking on Saturday (as well as a little bit of Champions League experience). Hagglund could be a contender to come off the bench at some point.
Michael Bradley, Marky Delgado, Jonathan Osorio, Ager Aketxe
Toronto FC has depth in the midfield and I imagine that Greg Vanney will turn to some of it on Wednesday night. Bradley will almost certainly be at the bottom of the diamond but it is the other three that will likely see a bit of change.
Victor Vazquez came out of Saturday’s game with slight injury and there’s a chance he won’t be ready for the game on Wednesday. If he’s healthy, he’ll likely play, but if he doesn’t, Ager Aketxe would likely be the player to slide into the top of the diamond and control the attack. That would leave a hole on the wing of the diamond, opening the door for Marky Delgado to get a start after being limited to a substitute appearance on Saturday, slotting in alongside Jonathan Osorio.
Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore
TFC will have to be careful with these two, as they have both started every competitive match this season, and could start to feel a little bit of fatigue. They should start the match but I’m not sure they’ll both finish it, as Jordan Hamilton and Tosaint Ricketts are both viable options off the bench.
Clint Irwin, Nick Hagglund, Ashtone Morgan, Auro, Nicolas Hasler, Tosaint Ricketts, Jordan Hamilton
Toronto’s bench will be filled with a mixture of people fighting for playing time, and players who are looking for their first appearances of the season. Clint Irwin, Ashtone Morgan and Tosaint Ricketts are all looking for their first action of the year, but likely won’t be starting the game. Auro has looked sharp so far and might even start over van der Wiel, or maybe making an appearance at some point in the match.