On Wednesday Toronto FC head to Ottawa for the first leg of their Canadian Championship semi-final against Ottawa Fury FC. The second leg takes place a week later at BMO Field.
In the Canadian Championship, teams are required to start at least three Canadian players, but I predict that Greg Vanney will actually select five. I think Vanney will go with the 5-3-2 (or 3-5-2) formation used against Orlando on Saturday.
Alex Bono has been used a lot in the busy stretch Toronto are in the middle of, and Irwin hasn’t played much this season, so he should be well rested. I expect we will see Irwin in both games against Ottawa, and for the rest of the tournament if Toronto advance, as he did in 2017.
Nicolas Hasler, Eriq Zavaleta, Nick Hagglund, Justin Morrow, Ashtone Morgan
This defence group is similar to the one that played against Orlando, but I’ve taken out Ryan Telfer for Ashtone Morgan. Not only is Morgan one of the three required Canadians (Telfer also would be), but he hasn’t played much recently, and thus could use some playing time.
Hagglund, Zavaleta, Morrow and Hasler all started against Orlando. They didn’t do the greatest job of protecting Alex Bono, as Orlando managed to get an incredible 19 shots, seven of which were on target, and allowed two goals. Nick Hagglund did score a late goal for Toronto, but it wasn’t enough to steal a point in Florida.
Liam Fraser, Jonathan Osorio, Jay Chapman
Toronto need at least three Canadians on Wednesday, and I think Greg Vanney will select an entire midfield of Canadians. After leaving the game against Orlando, the first time he has been subbed out of a TFC game in 4 years, Michael Bradley could miss this match. He was subbed out in the second half, and looked frustrated as he left the pitch, and it was widely speculated that it was due to injury, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. He could be rested ahead of TFC’s visit to Chicago this weekend, allowing Liam Fraser to get a start. Last season, TFC had Benoit Cheyrou at their disposal for this tournament, but this year TFC will look to Fraser to sit at the base of midfield and protect the back line. Jonathan Osorio leads TFC in goals this season (all competitions), and has been one of Toronto’s best players all year. I think it is almost a given that he will start in midfield against fellow Brampton native Jay Chapman. As my fellow Waking the Red writer Mitchell Tierney says in this article you should read: “Chapman has quietly been putting together the best season of his career and deserves to keep getting opportunities as the season progresses.”
Sebastian Giovinco, Jordan Hamilton
Sebastian Giovinco will be hoping he can recreate his performances from last year’s Canadian Championship, which saw him named the tournament’s MVP. Despite having a down season by his standards in MLS, Giovinco is capable of creating goals from even the tiniest of chances, and he could break out of his slump at any time. Paired with Jordan Hamilton (a fifth Canadian), Giovinco will be looking to steer his side to victory.