TFC plays host to MLS' newest team.
Toronto FC: Is “N/A” an acceptable answer here? Really, there isn’t much of a silver lining that can be taken from that disgusting second half collapse in Foxboro on Saturday night, but what can be said, though, is that new signing Raivis Hscanovics fit seamlessly into the Toronto back 4 at left back. While some might take that as an insult considering the current shape of the Toronto defense, it’s meant as a compliment. So often you see players who have succeeded in other leagues worldwide come into MLS and look lost, but the young Latvian acquitted himself nicely in his TFC debut. Sure, it’s only one game, but Hscanovics’ performance shone brightly in what was otherwise a game filled with disappointment.
Philadelphia Union: Alejandro Moreno and Sebastien Le Toux played about as good of a game together against D.C. United as you can expect from an offensive duo up top. Le Toux will draw all the spotlight considering the hat trick, but Moreno played the target role splendidly in beautifully assisting on Le Toux’s second goal and earning an honorary assist by drawing the free kick that buried United. Le Toux scored three goals on four shots in an incredible performance by the Seattle cast-off. All in all, the offense clicked against United and if Roger Torres and Fred can continue to play skillfully on the flanks, the offense should keep rolling against Toronto.
Toronto FC: The most disheartening part about the loss to the Revs was the fact that the team’s commitment to defending during the first 45 was so appreciably better than it was two weeks ago in Columbus, but it all went for naught due to the sheer sloppiness of the opening minutes of the second. Not to take anything away from Zach Schilawski or Sainey Nyassi, but the ease in which New England took a stranglehold on Saturday night’s match was thanks in great part to the mental mistakes made by TFC. This was best encompassed by the horrific giveaways made by Nick Garcia and Nane Joseph that led directly to goals.
Philadelphia Union: Mental mistakes put D.C. back in a game it never should have been in against the Union last Saturday. Santino Quaranta punished young Michael Orozco for his poor pass in the defensive third, and goalkeeper Chris Seitz fell victim to Jaime Moreno’s Jedi mind tricks that resulted in a disastrous and embarrassing goal. Ultimately the Union found a way to win, but remove those very correctable mistakes and the match is a delight of an opener for the Union, and a complete disaster for United.
Toronto FC: When Chad Barrett came on for Hscanovics for the last half-hour of Saturday night’s match, Preki shifted to a traditional 4-4-2 and away from the more ambitious 4-3-3 employed previously. After the game, Barrett said that he felt a little tight, but good enough, so if he’s able to start on Thursday, look for the formation to remain the same against a physical Philadelphia side. Newly signed defender Adrian Cann might make his way into the line-up for the home opener.
Philadelphia Union: Against D.C. United, Philadelphia found a lineup it can stick with. The 4-4-2 created plenty of offensive spark with Torres and Fred on the flanks and Moreno/Le Toux up top. Don’t take too many risky chances with the defense pushing up or the central midfielders getting too high, and the defensive side of the ball should be OK. The offense has certainly shown its potential, and Toronto’s defense has shown its as well. An early Union goal would quiet a raucous Toronto crowd and put a lot of pressure on a poorly-performing Reds squad.
Toronto FC: Make no mistake about it, the crowd at BMO on Thursday night will be nothing short of rabid. This is TFC’s fourth home opener in franchise history and the fans have certain expectations in a city starved for a winner. Nobody is under the illusion that this is a championship contender, but consistency and honesty will be demanded. Anything less than that is going to be met with significant and vocal disapproval.
Philadelphia Union: Two things to mention here: how will the Union come out on just four days of rest, as opposed to the two-plus weeks the team had to prepare for D.C. United after First Kick in Seattle? The second is the boisterous home crowd at BWO Field. It’s no secret that Toronto is a tough place for away teams, and after two poor performances on the road, a home game is just what Toronto FC needs right now. Home crowds can be the great equalizer.
Toronto FC: The Union will be coming into Thursday night’s match-up on a high, after recording its first ever franchise win on Saturday night over DC, thanks to Sebastien Le Toux’s hat trick. While Philly’s confidence will be high, Toronto simply cannot afford a substandard effort in their home opener versus expansion opposition. Somehow, the Reds will produce a result. Take TFC here, 2-0.
Philadelphia Union: The Union didn’t perform well in Seattle’s wild home setting, but that was a very different lineup and nearly incomparable. Toronto’s home crowd could be enough to carry the Reds to victory, but Philadelphia has confidence after a gutsy 3-2 win, even if it was against lowly D.C. United. However it comes, confidence is key and the Union will earn their first road win, 2-1, at Toronto.
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