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Preview: Philadelphia Union at Toronto FC

Game time: Thursday, 7 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN2, ESPN 360

Philadelphia Union head to one of Major League Soccer’s best venues to play one of its worst teams, Toronto FC. The Reds come in having lost their first two games by a combined score of 6-1. Their porous back line gave up a hat trick to a rookie and could be the worst in MLS. On the flip side, the Union come in on a high after manhandling D.C. United in a 3-2 win that, if not for two crucial mistakes by the Union, could have been 3-0. Both teams are led by hard-nosed coaches with reputations for winning in MLS: Preki for Toronto and Peter Nowak for Philadelphia, each in their first season with their current club.

Probable starters

Philadelphia

Goalkeeper: Chris Seitz
Defenders: Jordan Harvey, Michael Orozco, Danny Califf, Cristian Arrieta
Midfielders: Stefani Miglioranzi, Fred, Roger Torres, Andrew Jacobson
Forwards: Sebastien Le Toux, Alejandro Moreno

Toronto

Goalkeeper: Stefan Frei
Defenders: Raivis Hscanovics, Nick Garcia, Nana Attakora, Dan Gargan
Midfielders:  Dwayne De Rosario, Julian de Guzman, Nick LaBrocca, Martin Saric, Amadou Sanyang
Forwards: O’Brian White

Injuries and suspensions

Philadelphia: MF Danny Mwanga (left calf strain); MF Toni Stahl (right knee contusion); DF Danny Califf (right ankle sprain); MF Shea Salinas (left quad strain); FW Sebastien Le Toux (left ankle sprain) are probable.

Toronto: DF Emmanuel Gomez (right knee osteochondral injury) is out. MF Jacob Peterson (right knee ACL) is probable.

Match-ups

Philadelphia defense vs. Toronto forwards

Arrieta, Califf, Orozco and Harvey looked solid against D.C. United, with the exception of one sloppy Orozco pass that led to a D.C. goal. Nix that mistake and repeat the D.C. game, and you have a great back line. Arrieta looks good on the attack and Califf and Orozco are just monsters in the middle. Compare that to a young, unproven striker in O’Brian White for Toronto.

Wild card: How will Chris Seitz do in goal for the Union? He’s been shaky so far this season.

Edge: Philadelphia

Philadelphia midfield vs. Toronto midfield

Toronto’s midfield is its strength. Dwayne De Rosario and Julian de Guzman lead a midfield that has some depth in it. The two Canadians are obviously the big names, De Rosario because of his past MLS exploits with the Houston Dynamo, de Guzman for what many think he can do after coming over from Europe. But the rest of the midfield isn’t bad, and there’s a good bit of depth there.

The Union have gotten excellent play from Colombian teenager Roger Torres so far, and Fred really seemed to stabilize the attack in the D.C. United game. Stefani Miglioranzi had a quietly strong game too, but don’t be surprised if Jacobson takes a seat, possibly for Shea Salinas, a burner who showed some spark after coming on as a sub against D.C.

Edge: Even

Philadelphia forwards vs. Toronto defense

Nick Garcia is so far over the hill he might as well be underground, and he could get benched for this match. Dan Gargan is a Philly guy who has had an interesting career since graduating from local high school power Chestnut Hill Academy. He briefly retired in 2008 and then changed his mind, signing in 2009 with the Puerto Rico Islanders of USL-1, where he played with Cristian Arrieta, the current starting right back for the Union. Hscanovics is a new signing, so the jury’s out on him. Likewise, Canadian international Adrian Cann recently signed with the team, and he could sneak into the starting lineup to solidify this defense.

For the Union, Sebastien Le Toux and Alejandro Moreno had huge games against D.C., with Le Toux netting a hat trick and Moreno helping create all three goals. Now they get a defense that might be worse than D.C.

Edge: Philadelphia

Individual match-up to watch

Alejandro Moreno vs. Nick Garcia

If the Union play anything like they did against D.C., Moreno may eat Toronto’s center backs alive. He doesn’t need to score to significantly impact a game. He had one assist, helped set up another goal, and drew the foul that led to the third goal on a free kick. If Moreno can do the same, this match could turn on him.

What to expect

The Union looked terrific against D.C. United, but they won’t have a home crowd behind them this time. Toronto has a great home crowd, but the natives are also getting restless with the team’s subpar play here in their fourth season. These two teams have momentum going in very different directions, but for a struggling team like Toronto, there’s nothing like a visit from an expansion team with a struggling goalie to help shape things up. Toronto’s new signings could help them in defense, if they see the field.

Prediction

The Union win 2-1. They looked really fluid against D.C. United, and Toronto isn’t a better team. Home field advantage counts for something – in this case, one goal.

(Photo: Philadelphia Union)

3 Comments

  1. I think you hit the nail right on the head. While Seitz is struggling, I think that this weeks declaration that the ridiculous goal he caused/allowed should not have counted will hopefully give him some confidence back. Sometimes it helps to know that one’s own incomptence was superceded by the official’s. At least he knows tha it ought not be allowed again.

  2. Definitely true. If the ref makes the right call, nobody remembers that it ever happened.

  3. Pingback: Quick update | C. Horridus

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