Match #11 Preview: Philadelphia Union at Toronto FC

TORONTO - APRIL 15: Jordan Harvey #2 of the Philadelphia Union celebrates his goal against Toronto FC during action at BMO Field April 15, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)

Setting: Saturday, May 28 at BMO Field in Toronto; kickoff scheduled for 12:36:30 PM Eastern

Broadcast Information: Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia (J.P. Dellacamera, Taylor Twellman), coverage starting at 12:00 PM Eastern with a pre-game show / GOLTV Canada (Luke Wileman), FAN590.com (Dan Dunleavy, Bob Iarusci) in Toronto / MLS Direct Kick, MatchDay Live (CSN feed)

Toronto's Record: 2-4-6, seventh in East

Toronto's Last Match: T, 0-0 at Colorado

Philadelphia vs. Toronto Last Season: 1-1-0 (Philadelphia 1 @ Toronto 2 on April 15; Toronto 1 @ Philadelphia 2 on July 17)

For the Toronto Perspective, Visit Waking The Red

Well, that was a bit better from the Philadelphia Union, wasn't it? Fresh off of their exhilarating 2-1 home victory against Chicago, the Union go back on the road to take on the (seemingly always) struggling Toronto FC. After gaining those three crucial points last Saturday, and finding themselves back on top of the Eastern Conference table for MLS (if only for a few days, as the Red Bulls have retaken the top spot thanks to a 2-2 draw on Wednesday against the Rapids), the second-year organization finds itself in another new position: the club is expected to take full points from an away match for the first time. As J.P. Dellacamera and Taylor Twellman signed off of Comcast SportsNet on Saturday, Twellman said as much -- they're expected to win, or at worst draw. And it's true -- a loss would be probably looked at very poorly.

That's not to say the Toronto side the Union will be facing is made up of mere pushovers -- far from it. But if the Reds are consistent in one area, it's their inconsistency. You simply don't know what kind of club you'll be facing -- it could be the team that held the Galaxy to a scoreless draw, or the team that dropped a home match against D.C. United 3-0. Regardless, it will be the job of Philadelphia's backline, in conjunction with Faryd Mondragon, to primarily quiet Maicon Santos and Joao Plata.

For the Union's players upfront, it will be about continuing the success in creating scoring chances that really started in Frisco and stretched much through the Chicago match. No, none of those numerous offensive chances have been finished yet -- both Michael Farfan's goal and Carlos Ruiz's golazo came off of free kicks -- but sooner or later, they'll start capitalizing on some of them. Toronto's certainly not a defensive stalwart, but the Union are going to need to continue to put the ball towards frame, especially as Carlos Ruiz prepares to depart the club for national team duties.

Projected starters, up-to-date injury reports, and assorted match notes after the jump...

Likely starters:

Philadelphia: Mondragon (C); Harvey, Califf, Valdes, Williams; Mapp, Carroll, M. Farfan; Ruiz, Mwanga, Le Toux

Toronto: Frei; Gargan, Cann, Williams, Eckersley; Stevanovic, Tchani, de Guzman; Plata, Santos, Soolsma

Injury updates:

For Philadelphia, Thorne Holder remains unavailable following a concussion, Amobi Okugo is out from his left ankle sprain, and Zach Pfeffer remains out following his appendectomy. Stefani Miglioranzi is "questionable" with a right groin strain, and Danny Mwanga is listed as "probable" despite a left hamstring sprain.

For Toronto, Elbekay Bouchiba is unavailable as he recovers from right knee surgery, and Jacob Peterson is out with a left hamstring issue. Alan Gordon and Gianluca Zavarise are listed as "questionable" with adductor strains, while Tony Tchani is also considered "questionable" with a right hamstring issue.

Of note:

  • Niko Bratsis is scheduled to be tomorrow's match referee. Look out, because this will only be Bratsis's second career MLS match. In his previous match, he called 21 fouls and handed out five cautions. He did not give any red cards, nor did he call for a penalty kick. Perhaps he's a solid, consistent referee who's rightfully getting a shot at running an MLS match. Or maybe he's not. We'll find out tomorrow.
  • Toronto was scheduled to host Vancouver in the second leg of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship, but due to awful, awful weather, the match was postponed. The match has been rescheduled to July 2, but in the mean time, expect Toronto's legs to be fresher. A tough break for both Toronto and Vancouver, but also a bit of a tough break for the Union.
  • Danny Mwanga will receive a one-match suspension following the next yellow card issued to him. Danny Califf and Sheanon Williams are two yellow cards away from the same fate, as are Dan Gargan and Javier Martina for Toronto.
  • This is, by far, the earliest start time the Union have had for an MLS match in the organization's brief one-and-a-third season history. The next earliest start time for the Union has been 3:30 PM Eastern. Will that affect the Union and cause them to get off to a potentially-fatal slow start on the road?

Don't forget to set the alarm clock to wake up on time for tomorrow -- again, this one's got an early start. Can the Union fulfill their fans' expectations of three points on the road, despite the club dropping their last three away matches? Hope you can join us tomorrow for a mid-day gamethread!

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