Match previews

Match preview: Philadelphia Union v. Toronto FC

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Who: Philadelphia Union (6-4-7, 25 points, 5th place in the East) vs. Toronto FC (3-8-5, 16 points, 10th place n the East)

What: 2021 MLS Regular Season

Where: Subaru Park, Chester, PA

When: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. (KO: 7:38 p.m.)

Watch: PHL17, ESPN+ (out of market)

Whistle: Ted Unkel; AR: Peter Balciunas & Ryan Graves; 4O: Greg Dopka; VAR: Rubiel Vazquez

The Union’s tour through the Eastern Conference’s flotsam and jetsam continues on Wednesday night as Toronto FC come to Chester.

Coming off back-to-back listless draws against Inter Miami and Chicago Fire, Philadelphia will look to use Toronto as a springboard to winning ways ahead of tougher challenges ahead — specifically, league leader New England Revolution and Concacaf Champions League opponent Club America.

Scouting Report: Toronto FC

Perennial powerhouse Toronto got off to a putrid start this year. One cause, of course, was that COVID-19 protocols kept them from playing any games in their home stadium, which must have been a grueling situation for players and staff.

Perhaps more importantly, the Reds made a major mistake in replacing manager Greg Vanney, hiring Chris Armas. Armas, recently of New York Red Bulls, lasted a whopping eleven matches before being fired, with a 7-1 pounding by D.C. United coming as the last straw.

His replacement, Javier Perez, has the team pointed in a better direction. Toronto hasn’t lost in the five matches since his appointment, including a big win against New England Revolution back in early July.

The spine of the team looks a bit like the USMNT circa 2012, with Omar Gonzalez, Michael Bradley, and Jozy Altidore all playing key roles. Worth watching is whether the dangerous creative midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo — the 2020 MLS MVP — will return from a lower body injury in tonight’s match.

Injury Report:

OUT: Ayo Akinola (ACL), Tsubasa Endoh (lower body)

QUESTIONABLE: Auro, Dom Dwyer, and Alejandro Pozuelo (all lower body)

Scouting Report: Philadelphia Union

The Union have cooled off in a big way after a blistering hot month of May.

With just one win (and no clean sheets) in their last seven matches, the Boys in Blue have been in a rut. They have a penchant for giving up early, weak goals, and the offense has been sputtering and lacking in creativity. Only a knack for late-game goals has helped the Union salvage key points.

Making matters worse, the team’s do-everything midfielder, Jamiro Monteiro, looks to have played his last game for the club. Manager Jim Curtin revealed during yesterday’s press conference that Monteiro is away from the team while transfer talks are ongoing. (Read more from our Nick Fishman on possible destinations for Monteiro.)

Curtin said yesterday that the upcoming CCL semifinal and Revolution match this weekend are priorities — but with the club’s form so poor, this match won’t be a throwaway. Expect to see a bit of rotation in the lineup, with Sergio Santos likely to return after suspension. Might we see a start for sparkplug Quinn Sullivan in midfield, or backline reinforcements like Stuart Findlay or Matt Real?

Injury Report:

OUT: Alvas Powell (injury)

QUESTIONABLE: Jack DeVries (concussion protocol), Anthony Fontana (concussion protocol)

Key Matchup: Centerbacks vs. Altidore (and Pozuelo?)

Jim Curtin, a defender at heart, will be desperate to secure a clean sheet in this match. For that to happen, the Union’s center backs — whether that’s the usual pair of Jack Elliott and Jakob Glenses, or if there’s some alteration there — will need to shut down Jozy Altidore, who remains a serious physical presence even at age 31. If Pozuelo is back, that danger increases even more.

Player to Watch: Olivier Mbaizo

It’s been an up-and-down season for the Union’s young right back. Mbaizo has had moments of strong individual defense and set up goals with some really quality crosses. He’s also given up goals because of poor positioning, and the team’s overreliance on him thumping in cross after cross has gotten increasingly stale. A night where he looks sturdy in defense and isn’t the focal point of the team’s attack would be a positive sign heading into a tough stretch of games.

Prediction: Philadelphia 2-0 Toronto

No doubt it’s been a bad stretch for the Union in recent weeks, but Toronto is exactly the kind of team they need to beat in advance of two big matches coming up.  Expect Daniel Gazdag to get his first MLS goal in this one.


  1. In Tanner We Trust says:

    If Curtin doesn’t rotate the squad outside of Santos for Burke, I may lose my mind. If we see a midfield of Gazdag, Bedoya, Flach, Martinez where Sullivan doesn’t enter until 80′, will we all submit angry comments after the game? And can we PLEASE see some of Real or Findlay? We gotta keep Wagner fresh for Club America. I don’t know how much more of this I can take, and I didn’t even mention the nightmare with Monteiro, our MOST IMPORTANT outfield player by far.

    • For what it’s worth, Curtin did say in the presser on Sunday night that they would make some changes for Wednesday. So, in this instance, I would genuinely be surprised if the lineup stays the same.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        That’s good to know, thanks. Is there a good place to get details on pressers or a way to watch it myself? I see them on YouTube every now and then.

      • Prepare to be surprised…
        Same starting lineup except Santos in for Burke…

    • Agreed, love the Captain but he obviously needs a rest. Will be disappointed if he starts. Even if the plan were to take him off at half, if the game is not in hand, the temptation would be too much to to leave him in.
      Would love to see Sullivan and McGlynn start at the sides of the diamond. If they are not getting it done, they can be swapped out at half.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      Welp it’s Santos for Burke, nothing else. Go figure. With Curtin talking about the importance of the NE game, it actually makes me question if they care about CCL! Like oh ok cool we made the semis who cares if we get embarrassed. What are we doing?!

    • Start submitting your angry comments… angry

  2. el Pachyderm says:

    I am reminded of the moment in Days of Thunder when Cole Trickle slams a baseball bat into the side of the pool table in Rowdy’s game room and screams at him, “Now what’s it gonna be!”
    So… gentlemen…. What’s it gonna be?

  3. Something is wrong with this team… how can they turn it on in the first half… but then be flat as they were against the FLA squads?

    Also anyone drawing the Nogueira = Monteriro conclusion? Or how ’bout Dockal? Home sick? Really? 3 of the Union’s best players, all 3 international level competitors, professionals… just wanna go home???

    Cheesesteaks not agree?

    Maybe it’s being located in Chester and not Philly?

    I know… its Fang. A SNAKE WITH ARMS AND LEGS!!!! (Isn’t that a salamander?)


    What IS it?


    Anyone, anyone, Buehler, Buehler?

    Herr Tanner, that is the question.

    BTW Toronto truly is a terrible team. No wonder Varney left as fast as he could last season.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *