Orlando City SC come to Toronto on Friday evening for a game with a Giovinco-less Toronto FC. Giovinco, who picked up a silly red card in the dying moments of the match away to New England last Saturday, will be serving his one match suspension. Without an injured Jozy Altidore as well, Greg Vanney will have to be creative when selecting the attacking portion of his lineup in this one. I think Vanney will go with a 4-2-3-1 formation in this one, as Chris Mavinga is back from injury, allowing Michael Bradley to finally return to the midfield.
Bono had another off day in New England, allowing another three goals, including a shot from outside the box that he got his hand on but couldn’t direct away from the goal. Bono spoke midweek about the importance of having a good start to the match, which has been a major issue for the Reds in the early stages of the season. Toronto have conceded in the first 10 minutes on six occasions this season (at Colorado, home to Chivas, twice away to Houston and twice away to New England). Bono and the defence will need to step it up against an Orlando attack that includes Sacha Kljestan and Justin Meram.
Auro, Gregory van der Wiel, Chris Mavinga, Ashtone Morgan
As mentioned above, the defence has been shaky so far this season, due in large part to a plethora of injuries. Chris Mavinga made his return last weekend and looked solid, earning the Waking the Red man of the match nod, as voted by our readers. His return allows Michael Bradley to advance into his natural defensive midfield role, which has been greatly missed in the last month or so.
Van der Wiel and Morgan were both rested against New England and van der Wiel was left out of the squad entirely. Auro had a great match, setting up a few good chances and having a solid game defensively. He was one of the only players given a positive rating in Rate the Reds, receiving a score of +143.
Michael Bradley, Marky Delgado, Jonathan Osorio, Victor Vazquez, Ager Aketxe
The midfield will hopefully get a defensive boost on Friday as Michael Bradley should be moving up the pitch into his natural position. Marky Delgado has been trying to replace him, but the experiment has not been successful. Bradley is a rock in the heart of midfield that is hard to replicate, proving his worth the team on a nightly basis.
As soon as Victor Vazquez came onto the pitch against New England, TFC turned into a different team. They immediately opened up the field, and managed to pull one goal back, although they weren’t able to find an equalizer. Simply put, Toronto are a much better team when Victor is on the pitch, and will be hoping for a healthy rest of the season for the Spaniard. TFC will be looking for him and his countryman Ager Aketxe to provide some creativity in the absence of Gio.
With the absence of both Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore, Toronto will likely look to Tosaint Ricketts to provide some speed up top. Ricketts can outrun almost anyone in the league, a dangerous threat to any group of defenders.