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Game thread: Toronto FC 4-3 Minnesota United (FT)

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Let’s hope this Friday is better than Good.

MLS: Toronto FC at Seattle Sounders FC Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

FT — That ended loudly. TFC pull out the win, but not before Minnesota has two players (Gregus and Calvo) sent off in the dying stages. On to the match recap now...

82’ — Eriq Zavaleta will be TFC’s final sub of the night. Jozy Altidore checks out, heads straight to the room.

80’ Toronto FC 4-3 Minnesota United — JORDAN, WHAT?!?! Hamilton gets in behind Mannone again and heads it home to put Toronto FC up 4-3 (about 30 seconds before the videoboard confirms a Leafs victory).

77’ Toronto FC 3-3 Minnesota United — Jordan Hamilton! He ties it up nicely off a lovely little threaded pass by Jonathan Osorio.

76’ — Mavinga makes an incredibly risky (but successful) tackle in the box.

72’ — Jordan Hamilton draws in for DeLeon.

70’ Toronto FC 2-3 Minnesota United — Brutal. Chris Mavinga chops down a Minnesota player in the box, and it’s a stonewall penalty. Quintero puts it away, and does his dumb celebration in front of the supporters in 112.

66’ — In comes Auro (who’s blond now, apparently) to replace Laryea.

60’ — Bono does well again to dive and claim one out of the air in his own six-yard box.

57’ Toronto FC 2-2 Minnesota United — Angelo Rodriguez places a header into the top left corner off a nice cross, and we’re knotted up again.

50’ — Marky Delgado misbehaved and took a yellow card.

46’ — Minnesota have the first chance of the half, about 30 seconds in. Bono does well to catch a point-blank header.

46’ — Back for another 45. TFC attack to the north.

HT — Toronto FC have also confirmed that Pozuelo’s two goals (1:51 apart) were the two fastest by a single player in club history.

HT — TFC absolutely dominated the last 15 minutes or so of the half after scoring twice. Pozuelo is now on hat trick watch.

41’ — Laryea dribbles it all the way to the goal line and lays it off for Altidore, but he can’t quite get enough of it and deflects it up over the bar.

37’ — He nearly had another. My God.

30’ Toronto FC 2-1 Minnesota United — Before I’m even done writing the previous goal, he does it again. This time, it falls to Pozuelo just on the corner of the six-yard box, and he absolutely snipes it on the near post. Ridiculous.

28’ Toronto FC 1-1 Minnesota United — Holy crap, is Alejandro Pozuelo ever good at soccer. A long clearance from TFC’s 18-yard box by Mavinga comes out to Pozuelo just inside the half, and he brings it all the way upfield by himself. A few cheeky stepovers later, he hammers it into the right corner of the net.

25’ — Pozuelo and Osorio have a very good relationship. Good work there (Justin Morrow as well) to win a corner.

17’ Toronto FC 0-1 Minnesota United — Not great. Alex Bono whiffs on a lobbed ball in the air, and Darwin Quintero walks it into the goal behind him (and does a really weird celebration).

9’ — Minnesota have had a better portion of the ball so far, and TFC’s counter attacking hasn’t been great. That said, nobody’s been particularly challenged on the back end. TFC are holding up well, and Bono’s sliding gamble paid off a few minutes ago. Chris Mavinga looks good.

1’ — Game on. TFC kick off toward the south in the first half, so I’d suppose they lost the coin toss. Not the most robust of crowds, is there something else going on tonight?

Lineups

Toronto FC:

Minnesota United:

Preview

It’s rainy and miserable outside right now, and I was woken up to the dulcet tones of Phil Collins blaring from a kitchen speaker. So, excuse the grumpiness.

Anyway, Toronto FC make their return to BMO Field this evening to take on the mighty Minnesota United. The Reds enter this match with a 3-1-1 record, good enough for fourth in the Eastern Conference (plus two games in hand). The Loons are 3-1-2, meaning they match TFC in points so far.

The Reds have an ace up their sleeve tonight, though! For the first time ever, they’ll have a brand new hybrid grass pitch underfoot at BMO. A water-logged version of it, perhaps, but that’ll make this an interesting test of the new surface.

Minnesota has played well this season so far, with away wins over the New York Red Bulls and Vancouver Whitecaps. They gave the LA Galaxy a run for their money in Carson as well.

Darwin Quintero, who we remember all too well from TFC’s clash with Club América last season, has been lighting it up for Minnesota this season, with three goals and three assists to his name already.

The club’s newest Designated Player, Jan Gregus, has also been good for the Loons. He, along with former Seattle Sounder Osvaldo Alonso, will be doing his best in midfield to try and shut down the likes of Alejandro Pozuelo.

Unfortunately for Minnesota, it looks like 2017 defender of the year Ike Opara will be unable to participate on Friday, which will strike a major blow to the visitors’ defence.

TFC appear to be mostly healthy, with Drew Moor possibly coming back into the lineup (by his reckoning, at least). They’ll need to find a way to provide space in midfield, without coughing too much up on the counter-attack. Minnesota will probably be happy to absorb pressure and strike quickly (although perhaps less so without Opara), so Toronto’s defence need to be on their toes. That’ll be primarily down to Chris Mavinga, easily the fastest of TFC’s centre-backs.

Last season, when TFC visited Minnesota, it was one of the more frustrating games of a frustrating season, as Quintero scored a hat trick by repeatedly chipping Clint Irwin. These sides have only ever played twice, but both have been high-scoring games (3-2 Toronto in 2017, 4-3 Minnesota in 2018) with a lot of entertainment value.

The weather may not cooperate, and there may be other distractions in Toronto sports tonight, but this should still be a good night of football at BMO Field.

Team news: injuries & suspensions

Toronto FC: Drew Moor (adductor) is the only person listed as questionable, but he may be able to play a part.

Minnesota United: Defenders Ike Opara (facial injury) and Chase Gasper (hamstring) are listed as out, while midfielder Kevin Molino (knee) is questionable.

Pregame reading

How to watch

Match date/time: Friday, April 19, 8 p.m.
TV channel: TSN 1, 4, 5 (Canada), Fox Sports North+
Live stream: TSN GO, ESPN+
Radio: TSN 1050 (Toronto)