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Match preview: Toronto FC vs Philadelphia Union

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Who: Philadelphia Union (2020: 8-4-2, 28 points, 2nd place in the East) vs Toronto FC (8-4-2, 28 points, 3rd place in the East)
What: 2020 regular season; Week 15
Where: Rentschler Field, Toronto, East Hartford, CT
When: Saturday, October 3, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. (Eastern)
Watch: PHL 17
Whistle: Referee: Victor Rivas, Assistant Referees: Ian McKay, Gjovalin Bori, 4th Official: Luis Arroyo. VAR: Brooke Mayo

Another game, another win, another clean sheet. It’s almost getting monotonous… almost. Unlike another team in town that also plays football, the Union are playing some of their best ball, perhaps ever. If there has been a knock on their recent success it might be that the competition they’ve drawn in this odd season has not been of the best quality. Any questions will be answered on Saturday as they play the Toronto FC at the University of Connecticut’s football stadium. Note that the same opponent quality disclaimer could be said for Toronto, notwithstanding Sunday’s victory over Columbus.

The third place Toronto FC has an identical record with the Union and is behind them by virtue of goal differential (13 for the Union, 9 for Toronto FC). A win for either team could launch them into first place assuming a Columbus loss against Dallas on Saturday. So the stakes are high!

Scouting Report: Toronto FC

Toronto FC comes into Saturday’s matchup following a 3-1 signature win over the Columbus Crew. A goal and an assist (or two) were earned by two Toronto players; MLS player of the week Richie Laryea and MLS assist leader and strong MVP candidate Alejandro Pozuelo. The third goal was scored by forward Jozy Altidore who has been sharing time at the #9 with Ayo Akinola, the team’s scoring leader. Toronto pulled off the win without their long standing holding midfielder Michael Bradley who has been sidelined recently nursing an MCL strain – don’t expect to see him on Saturday.

Now in his seventh year, Toronto Manager Greg Vanney typically runs his team out of a 4-4-1-1. When on the ball, Toronto works a single pivot whereby the holding midfielder is the main outlet for defenders who upon receipt of the ball from the backline, moves the ball up the field into space. Once they are in an advanced area, Pozuelo is at the center of the action. The wingers pinch in and the fullbacks come forward giving Pozuelo along with fellow midfielder Marco Delgado several options to progress the attack and cause overloads in the halfspace. Pozuelo, who is quite capable of scoring himself, can then link with the striker or push the ball wide to the wings.

Toronto shifts to a 4-4-2 while on defense. They employ both a high and mid press but more to keep opposing offenses off form rather than exploit for quick transitions as they tend to favor possession. Toronto will close off the center of the field thus pushing the action to the wings. Toronto will often deploy a high line with their center backs and as they are not the fastest unit does allow the opportunity for some over the top play.

Injury Report: OUT: Achara (m), Michael Bradley (m), Auro, Jr (d)

Suspended: None

Scouting report: Union

Having gone five straight matches without a loss and a full week of rest we should expect a quality effort from the Union. Team Captain Alejandro Bedoya will be back on the pitch after serving a one game suspension for yellow card accumulation. Expect to see Olivier Mbaizo on the right wing in for the still ailing Ray Gaddis but otherwise it should be the regular starting eleven. Also Jack Elliot should be back but expect Jakob Glesnes to retain his right center back spot.

To succeed on Saturday the Union will have to do three things.

  1. Work the sidelines on the build up. Mbaizo and Wagner will need to be decisive and move the ball up the pitch before Toronto has the opportunity to rotate over.
  2. Work the ball over the top. If Glesnes, who has shown a penchant for the long pass, can drop the ball over the high Toronto line, Sergio Santos may have the ability to run past the centerbacks and chase down the ball.
  3. Centerback Jose Martinez needs to stay home and keep a close eye on Pozuelo as he will try to split the lines and create havoc.

Injury Report: OUT: None
The official injury report is not updated as of this writing but expect Warren Creavalle
and Ray Gaddis (d) to be unavailable.

Suspension Report: None

Key Matchup: Pozuela vs Aaronson
This match will feature two of the best creating midfielders in the MLS at the top of their games. Should be interesting to watch.

Player to Watch: Jameiro Monteiro

Granted this is a repeat, but still waiting for Monteiro to have his breakout game. He certainly has been competent but has not hit his ceiling. This is a big one, so now would be a good time.

Prediction: Toronto 1-2 Philadelphia

Moneyline:

Philadelphia Union: +280
Toronto FC: -110

For you degenerate gamblers…Feeling disrespected here. Are bad things happening in Philadelphia?

7 Comments

  1. is it a grass field the play on? Hope so!

  2. is it a grass field they play on? Hope so!

  3. The best part of Season Covid is that it’s the first year in club history that not a single match when you wake up and look at the match report……..doesn’t feel like the Bataan Death March. This year its……..bring it! Every club….bring it! That’s what I’ll remember this season most regardless of hardware or not…….

  4. After 3 years as a STM, club level, I actively cheer for any other team. I hate the Union deep down inside, with more passion than I had for them. Not sure why, but I really, really, really hate the Union.

    I think it began the moment those dumb assholes put their games on PHL17, exclusively, then had the nerve to put commercials in the middle of the match.

    Shameless

    Akinole! Yes!

  5. What a shock! Ilsin Jr. in the 70th minute. He’s got 1 move from the corner of the box. That’s it.
    I’m stronger and faster than Ilsin, 43, and haven’t been to the gym since March.

    Pozuelo!

  6. Judge Redd says:

    The difference in talent, class, depth & coaching were readily apparent.

    Utterly predictable L.

    U can’t play with the big boys of MLS.

    Just a fact.

    Doesn’t matter as long as they profit off their kids. Seems to be their only ambition. That mentality never wins anything.

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