Match previews / Union

Match preview: Toronto FC vs Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Who: Philadelphia Union (13-8-10, 49 points – 2nd in East) vs Toronto FC (6-17-8, 26 points – 13th in East)

What: MLS Regular Season

Where: BMO Field, Toronto, Ontario

When: Wednesday, October 27th, 7:30pm

Watch: PHL17, ESPN+

Whistle: Not available at time of publication

After a foray into Canada a week and half ago yielded a 2-2 draw in Montreal, Philadelphia will once again head north of the border to face Toronto FC. Philadelphia will be looking to pick up a key road win to help put control on second place in the Eastern Conference. Toronto will be playing for pride, and possibly a job next year, as the side has been eliminated from playoff contention after a disappointing season.

Scouting Report: Toronto FC

To say this season has been a disappointment for Toronto would be an understatement.

Toronto started their year playing games in Orlando due to the coronavirus pandemic, then head coach Chris Armas was relieved of his duties following a 7-1 defeat to D.C. United. Toronto has become a more respectable side back home in Canada though, posting a record of 3-3-5 since their return to Ontario in July.

Usually leading the attack for Toronto this season has been MLS journeyman Patrick Mullins. Mullins can be a streaky scorer, but hasn’t found the net in his last 2 starts. Veteran Jozy Altidore is an option of the bench and even a possibility for a start. Toronto has felt the injury blow as young attacker Ayo Akinola is out for the season with a ACL injury, and veteran Dom Dwyer has also been dealing with injuries of late.

In the midfield Toronto does sport some well known names, Alejandro Pozuelo usually leads the attack at the top of the midfield, while veteran Michael Bradley usually covers the base and handles the defensive responsibilities. On the wings is Canadian international Jonathon Osorio, who provides energy and width to the attack. American Marky Delgado is on the left side, helping Bradley defensively. New man Yeferson Soteldo, who often links well with Pozuelo, will miss the match due to injury.

In the back is one of Toronto’s and Canada’s most exciting players in Richie Laryea playing on the right. Laryea uses his speed to get up into the attack and send crosses in, and recovers well defensively. On the left is Auro Junior, who much like Laryea is a threat with his speed. In the middle are veterans Chris Mavinga and Eric Zavaleta. Toronto has been rotating goalkeepers lately, with Quinten Westberg and Alex Bono seeing time, but Westberg should start in goal.

Injury Report: Out – Ayo Akinola, Ralph Priso, Tsubasa Endoh, Achara, Omar Gonzalez, Yeferson Soteldo; Questionable – Dom Dwyer

Suspension Report:  None

Scouting report: Union

Since their Champions League exit, Philadelphia has seen a big turn in league form: they boast a record of 5-1-2 in eight games and have picked up points in two out of three road games. Philadelphia will also be looking to build on their big win against Nashville over the weekend, helping them reach second place in the conference.

Up top don’t be surprised to see Kacper Przybylko get the start again with Daniel Gazdag and Jamiro Monteiro as dual #10s behind him. This Christmas tree formation has suited Philadelphia well in recent weeks, as Gazdag found the net twice in a road loss to Minnesota. Sergio Santos should feature off the bench as he returns to match fitness following an injury.

The midfield should remain unchanged as well after a great display at home last time out. Leon Flach, Jose Martinez and Alejandro Bedoya all provide the defensive responsibility needed for Philadelphia to support one of the best defenses in the league. Paxten Aaronson and Quinn Sullivan are likely candidates to feature if coach Jim Curtin decides to limit some of his starters’ minutes.

The back four for Philadelphia also will not see changes, after a dominant display limiting Nashville to hardly any offense. Jack Elliott and Jacob Glesnes have been one of, if not the best, center-back pairings in the league this year. Olivier Mbazio will look to build on a strong defense performance Saturday, while Kai Wagner hopes to stay out of the referee’s book, a yellow card will see him suspended for the next match. The only change coming to the Philadelphia lineup will be Matt Freese for Andre Blake in goal, Blake is out due to a death in the family.

Injury Report: OUT – Ilsinho, Cory Burke, Alvas Powell

Suspension Report:  None

Key Matchup Midfield Speed

Both midfields in this matchup like to play in very different styles. Toronto will look to build slowly through Pozuelo and Bradley, playing into Mullins or Altidore. Philadelphia will look to get up field quickly and have Jamiro Montiero and Daniel Gazdag running at the Toronto defense, looking to play in Przybylko.

Player to Watch: Daniel Gazdag 

Gazdag has been looking more comfortable with his teammates and role in the team since arriving from Hungary earlier in the year. He scored twice in Philadelphia’s last road trip and looked a threat last time out against Nashville. The Philadelphia attack should have him involved heavily on the night.

Prediction:  Toronto 0-1 Philadelphia 

Philadelphia claims firm control of second place over a struggling Toronto side and keeps up their strong defensive performances. Gazdag and Monteiro will combine for a goal to get Philly the win.

Odds
Philadelphia = +170
Toronto= +160
Draw = +245

6 Comments

  1. One small correction. In the 8 games since being eliminated from CCL, the Union have picked up points in 3 of 4 road games rather than 2 of 3 (win in Cincinnati, draws in Harrison and Montreal).
    .
    Also, MLS.com says a Union win officially clinches a playoff spot while a draw combined with specific other results would also do so.
    .
    Still wish they were playing south of the border tomorrow night in Monterrey rather than north of the border tonight.

  2. Hope the U properly thrash Toronto tonight. Could use some good feelings as this season closes.

  3. Come On You U says:

    Just curious – does anyone have an update on the status of Ilsinho’s hamstring injury? Hopefully he can be an additional option from the bench during the playoffs….

  4. Here are the officials for tonight.
    .
    Toronto FC vs Philadelphia Union
    BMO Field (7:30PM ET)
    REF: Silviu Petrescu
    AR1: Gianni Facchini
    AR2: Lyes Arfa
    4TH: David Barrie
    VAR: Alejandro Mariscal
    AVAR: Robert Schaap

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