On Friday night Toronto FC travel to Talen Energy Stadium to take on the Philadelphia Union. Last time the two teams met, on May 4 at BMO Field, Toronto picked up three goals and three points, as Victor Vazquez, Sebastian Giovinco, and Jay Chapman all found the back of the net. This time around, Philadelphia will be missing a couple of key players as both Alejandro Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin were given red cards in their last game, within seconds of each other, for dissent toward the referee.
In their last match, Toronto FC used a 4-4-2 formation, one that I suspect we’ll see again in Philadelphia.
Bono gave up three late goals against Columbus, including a 90th minute penalty from TFC-killer Federico Higuain, but he actually played a decent match at Mapfre Stadium. All three goals by the Crew were unstoppable and were the result of a defensive breakdown, often from Michael Bradley (more on Bradley later), so Bono shouldn’t be too hard on himself for that one.
Auro, Michael Bradley, Nick Hagglund, Gregory van der Wiel
Auro has been stellar all year for Toronto, and his technical ability has won over a large portion of the TFC faithful. Toronto will be hoping the strong play continues, as Auro has been one of the best TFC players this season. On the other side of the pitch, Gregory van der Wiel has been everything TFC could have hoped for, as he has been both consistent and flexible, as he has played all over the defence this season.
Nick Hagglund came off the bench in the last match and was on the pitch when the final two goals were scored. He has just come off a lengthy injury delay so a start may be out of the question, meaning that Jason Hernandez would likely start in his place.
Michael Bradley. What an interesting situation he’s found himself in. Due to an abundance of injuries to defenders, Michael has been thrust into a role in the centre of defence, as opposed to his natural midfield role, and I’d say it’s been a failed experiment. At times he looks comfortable, but there have been a few key incidents that have stood out, such as the final 10 minutes against Columbus. For Columbus’s second goal, Bradley made an awful attempt to kick the ball away, instead poking it right into the path of Alex Crognale, who smashed it home, narrowing the lead to 3-2. About nine minutes later, Bradley brought down Higuain in the box, allowing the Argentinian to step up and even the score.
Nicolas Hasler, Victor Vazquez, Jonathan Osorio, Ryan Telfer
Victor Vazquez scored in last week’s match, a calmly taken penalty that gave Toronto a 1-0 lead, and he assisted Tosaint Ricketts’s goal. He appears to be in fine form, something that the fans hope will last a bit longer.
Osorio and Telfer have been linking up nicely together, as their overlapping runs and passes into the box have led to some great scoring chances of late. They will be looking to continue to work the wings, with the help of Nicolas Hasler on the other side of the pitch, to provide some chances for the strikers and anyone else who finds themselves in front of goal.
Tosaint Ricketts, Sebastian Giovinco
Both Ricketts and Giovinco scored against Columbus — Ricketts a tap-in from a few yards away and Giovinco on another perfect free kick. They will be looking to link up with the aforementioned midfielders to create some goals and get back in the win column on Friday night.