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Predicting Toronto FC’s lineup against Houston Dynamo

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Expect a frustrating game as Greg Vanney rests his starters

MLS: Toronto FC at Colorado Rapids Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday Toronto FC will be at BBVA Compass Stadium for a game with the Houston Dynamo. In the middle of their two CONCACAF Champions League final games, Greg Vanney is opting to rest all of his starters, a tactic that he used in last week’s 2-0 loss at the hands of the Colorado Rapids. TFC were unimpressive in that match, although Ager Aketxe stood out, and had himself a decent match, despite the lack of a goal from the Spaniard.

Greg Vanney could again go with the 4-3-3 formation, as he is short on central defenders and needs to stay organized in this match to try and pick up some valuable points, even with a reserve side.

Goalkeeper

Clint Irwin

Irwin was decent in Colorado, making a few key saves but he allowed a pair of goals that he shouldn’t be held accountable for. The first one was a brilliant strike into the bottom left corner by English midfielder Jack Price in the second minute. The other one was a penalty scored by Shkelzen Gashi. With Alex Bono penciled in to start the game against Chivas in the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday, Irwin will need to put up a solid performance in his place.

Defence

Nicolas Hasler, Jason Hernandez, Eriq Zavaleta, Ashtone Morgan

Toronto FC got a pair of key defenders back on Tuesday against Chivas, as Justin Morrow and Chris Mavinga returned following lengthy injury spells. They are unavailable for this match as the starters made the trip to Guadalajara in preparation for leg 2 of the Champions League final on Wednesday. In their absence, TFC may turn to some players who have played a lot in recent weeks — Ashtone Morgan at left-back and Eriq Zavaleta at centre-back.

Jason Hernandez was signed to be depth in the centre of defence, and will almost certainly play in this one. Although he may play a role in Mexico, Nicolas Hasler is unlikely to start in Wednesday night’s game against Chivas, and is the favourite to start at right-back.

Midfield

Liam Fraser, Ager Aketxe, Jay Chapman

For the game against Houston, I am picking the same midfield trio that Vanney used for the Colorado game. Ager Aketxe was TFC’s best player against the Rapids by a long way, and will be an integral cog to Toronto’s attacking machine if he plays.

Liam Fraser and Jay Chapman will sit just behind Aketxe and will try to form a strong bridge between the forwards and defenders. Chapman is more attacking than Fraser so Fraser will likely play in a role similar to Michael Bradley’s whereas Chapman will try to fill the role left behind by Jonathan Osorio, who will also be rested in this one.

Forward

Tosaint Ricketts, Jordan Hamilton, Ben Spencer

This front three is exactly the same as the one seen in Colorado. The trio created a lot of chances but lacked finishing ability. Ben Spencer was possibly the poorest player on the pitch as he missed a few good chances and looked uninspired. Another option would be moving Jordan Hamilton to the middle, puttingSpencer on the bench and placing Ayo Akinola or Ryan Telfer on the wing.

Bench

Caleb Patterson-Sewell, Julian Dunn, Drew Moor, Aidan Daniels, Auro, Ryan Telfer, Ayo Akinola