Following a heartbreaking shootout loss at the hands of Chivas Guadalajara on Wednesday in the CONCACAF Champions League final, Toronto FC need to pick themselves up and get their league campaign back on track. The Reds have essentially forfeited their last two league matches, resting all of their starters against Colorado and Houston in order to keep players fresh for their Champions League games, unfortunately to no avail, and they lost both games by scores of 2-0 to the Rapids and 5-1 to the Dynamo.
With just 3 points through their first five league matches, something unexpected from last year’s treble winners, Toronto currently sit in last place in the Eastern Conference and are desperate need of some points. Toronto FC have been battling a lot of injuries in recent times, and are currently missing a ridiculous number of defenders (more on that later), so expect to see a weaker line of defence on Saturday afternoon.
Bono was visibly upset after the loss to Chivas in midweek, on his birthday nonetheless, and could use a win on Saturday to boost his spirits. Bono and TFC played a stellar match against Chivas but losing a final will deflate any team, especially when it would’ve given you the quadruple.
Ashtone Morgan, Jason Hernandez, Gregory van der Wiel, Nicolas Hasler
Morgan, van der Wiel and Hasler all started against Chivas and should start this one if available. They all looked great in that one, and received very positive ratings in our “Rate the Reds” column, all 3 within the top 4 scores.
Jason Hernandez was signed as an emergency defender, as TFC’s top 4 centre-backs are battling injuries, as is Justin Morrow, the first-choice left-back. Drew Moor, Chris Mavinga, Nick Hagglund and Eriq Zavaleta are all injured in some capacity, although Zavaleta was on the bench for the Champions League game as a last resort. Michael Bradley looked at home playing in the heart of defence in that game but that should only be an emergency option, for now at least.
Michael Bradley, Ager Aketxe, Jonathan Osorio, Victor Vazquez
As I mentioned above, Michael Bradley played centre-back in the Champions League final on Wednesday and looked more than competent in the role. That could be an option for him later in his career, but for now it’s fair to assume that he’ll remain the rock in the midfield.
Jonathan Osorio was another player who showed his emotions after the Chivas loss, not even smiling as he received the Golden Boot as the tournament’s top scorer. A year ago many fans would have laughed at the idea that Osorio would be the top scorer, let alone one of the first names in Greg Vanney’s squad, and the potential that he has shown so far this season can only be good for TFC and the CMNT going forward.
Victor Vazquez returned from injury in the last game and looked slow at times, but managed to last for 70 minutes before being replaced by Jay Chapman. He showed signs of his 2017 self but will need some more time in the lineup to get back into the swing of things.
Ager Aketxe has had a tough start to his TFC career, playing poorly in both the league and Champions League. He has spent too much time walking and slouching, and has a lot of TFC fans wanting more from the Spaniard. It may just be a confidence issue, but whatever it is needs to change. He has shown signs of what he is capable of, but has yet to play a great game for the Reds.
Sebastian Giovinco, Tosaint Ricketts
Super Seba picked up the Golden Ball in midweek as the Champion League’s player of the tournament. He tied with his teammate Jonathan Osorio atop the race for the Golden Boot, losing it by playing more minutes than Osorio, and showing signs that he is still capable of his 2015 MVP form. Injuries have plagued him the last few years so if he can stay healthy, there is no reason why he can’t have an enormous season.
Tosaint Ricketts didn’t play against Chivas so he should be fresh for this one, and could get a start if Altidore is out with the injury that forced him out of the Champions League game.