On Wednesday night Toronto FC will be at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota to take on Minnesota United FC. July 4 is Independence Day in the United States of America and just 3 days after Canada Day, on which Toronto FC also played, losing 1-0 to the New York Red Bulls.
Sunday’s match was another frustrating day at BMO Field, and one which TFC must try to get redemption for on Wednesday, hopefully in the form of three away points. So far this season, Minnesota has 16 points through 16 matches, a single point more than Toronto FC, good for 9th place in the Western Conference.
For this match, due to a few more injuries to defenders, I think Greg Vanney will opt to use a 4-4-2 diamond formation, as it requires only two centre-backs as opposed to the three that Vanney likes to use in the 3-5-2 formation.
Bono let in a shot by Kemar Lawrence on Sunday that he probably should have stopped and surely wishes he could have back. Surely Clint Irwin will start one of the matches during this busy stretch (TFC also play on July 7 in Kansas City), so he could get the start in this one instead. Having said that though, Bono has played the entirety of busy stretches like this before, which must be frustrating Clint Irwin, who is good enough to start on some other teams around the league.
Nicolas Hasler, Nick Hagglund, Eriq Zavaleta, Justin Morrow
Following another string of injuries to TFC defenders (Gregory van der Wiel, Jason Hernandez and Auro are the latest names added to a list that includes Chris Mavinga and Drew Moor), the “Frankendefence” could be out again. As it stands, TFC only have two healthy centre-backs, Eriq Zavaleta and Nick Hagglund. Jason Hernandez left Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury, and the ideal starting pair of Drew Moor and Chris Mavinga has been out for quite some time, with no announced timetable for their return. Recently Gregory van der Wiel has been playing a lot of minutes at centre-back but he is also out with an Achilles injury. The other option is to have Michael Bradley play in defence but that experiment has been a failure thus far, so it seems unlikely that Greg Vanney would return to that.
With Auro and van der Wiel both out with injuries, the first-choice right-back is Nicolas Hasler. The two-time Liechtenstein Footballer of the Year started Sunday’s match against the New York Red Bulls and, in my opinion, was one of the best players on the pitch. Hasler never stopped running for the whole 90 minutes, and looked better than most in red in possession of the ball.
Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio, Marky Delgado, Ager Aketxe
Michael Bradley had a poor performance against the Red Bulls, often misplacing passes and failing to stop whichever play was happening around him — usually his two strongest attributes. Despite his recent string of poor performances, Bradley remains the captain of the side and his leadership qualities are second to none on the team. There is no way he sits out a match, so expect to see him at the base of the midfield on Wednesday.
Marky Delgado also had a tough game on Sunday, often giving up on balls passed too far away from him, and playing the wrong pass in certain situations. He needs a strong game on Wednesday to forget about the last one and hopefully boost his confidence.
Jonathan Osorio was one of the better players on the pitch on Sunday. He was tied for the team lead in shots (three) and shots on goal (two) and made plenty of promising runs at the Red Bulls’ defenders. If he can replicate that against Minnesota, he could find himself putting one in the back of the net.
Jordan Hamilton, Sebastian Giovinco
The partnership of Hamilton and Giovinco was decent on Sunday but struggled at times to break down the Red Bulls’ defence. Jordan Hamilton in particular was seemingly unprepared for the physical play by Tim Parker and Aaron Long, as he was often pushed around by the pair of central defenders. In the absense of Jozy Altidore, Hamilton is a promising alternative, as on his day he can be a dangerous goal threat. Just look at this insane goal he scored for TFC II against FC Cincinnati (around the 1:53 mark in the video below):
Sebastian Giovinco played well on Sunday, finishing tied with Osorio for the team lead in shots and shots on goal, and he looked dangerous when running with the ball at times. The one thing that got him a lot of criticism, and perhaps deservedly so, was the penalty he took in the 78th minute. Giovinco, having not learned from the last few times his penalties have been saved, shot to the bottom left corner again, which Luis Robles expected, and the keeper managed to save the penalty. Giovinco always goes to this side, despite the number of similar penalties that have been saved, leaving many fans demanding that he stops taking penalties. Next in line would usually be Victor Vazquez, but he is out injured again.
Kickoff on Wednesday is at 7 p.m. Hopefully the Reds can pick up some much needed points in Minnesota and inch closer to 6th place.