On Saturday night Toronto FC will be at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta to take on high-flying Atlanta United. Atlanta currently sit atop the Eastern Conference as they have collected an incredible 47 points in 23 matches, and boast the best striker in MLS, Josef Martinez. Martinez, almost guaranteed the MVP award at this point, has an insane 24 goals in 23 matches this season, the new record for most goals by the all-star break. The record for most goals in a single season is 27, and he should get to that mark in the next couple of weeks at this rate.
Toronto FC have won four straight matches in all competitions, outscoring their opponents 9-1 in the process. Coinciding with the return of a lot of key players, there hasn’t been a lot that TFC have done wrong over that span. For example, last week Toronto beat the Chicago Fire 3-0. Goals from players expected to score goals — Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore — and a goal in a fourth consecutive match from Jonathan Osorio, led Toronto to victory over the Fire and put them just 6 points away from a playoff spot.
For this match I think Greg Vanney will select the 3-5-2 formation, the formation he used last time out against Chicago.
Bono kept a clean sheet last weekend and is beginning to regain his great form from last season. He made a few fine stops against Chicago and is capable of doing the same against an Atlanta United side that will generate plenty of scoring chances through the aforementioned Josef Martinez and play maker Miguel Almiron.
Chris Mavinga, Gregory van der Wiel, Nick Hagglund
As mentioned above, Atlanta have an incredible group of attackers, including Josef Martinez, Miguel Almiron, Ezequiel Barco (who will miss this one after his team suspended him for an off-field incident involving a teammate’s girlfriend) and rising USMNT star Andrew Carleton. They are a speedy bunch, meaning Chris Mavinga and Gregory van der Wiel will need to be at the top of their game to cover for Nick Hagglund, who is not blessed with electric pace like the other two.
Justin Morrow, Jonathan Osorio, Michael Bradley, Victor Vazquez, Auro
There are rumours going around that Auro, TFC’s young right-back, could start in Atlanta following a lengthy spell with injury. When healthy, he should be the starter in that position, which likely relegates Gregory van der Wiel to a centre back position.
Victor Vazquez also recently returned from injury and has already been effective, assisting and getting into good scoring positions. He will be crucial for Toronto FC down the stretch, hopefully getting into top form ASAP.
Jonathan Osorio has been the hottest player on TFC this season, and scored a goal in his 4th consecutive match last weekend. He has been incredible of late and leads the team in both MLS goals and goals in all competitions.
Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore
Both Gio and Jozy scored last week for TFC, a welcome sight for fans of the club. It was Jozy’s first goal of the season, which will hopefully spark a fire and sendToronto in the right direction. A confidence boost could be huge for TFC as they hunt for a playoff spot.