Match #26 Preview: Philadelphia Union At Toronto FC

TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 26: Richard Eckersley #27 of Toronto FC battles for the ball against Freddy Adu #11 of the Philadelphia Union during MLS action at BMO Field May 26, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)

Setting: Saturday, September 15 at BMO Field in Toronto, Ontario; kickoff scheduled for 1:08:00 PM Eastern

Broadcast Information: Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia (JP Dellacamera, Bob Rigby), with coverage starting at 12:30 PM Eastern with a pre-game show / TSN and TSN Radio (Luke Wileman, Jason de Vos), plus RDS, nationally in Canada / MLS Live, Direct Kick (CSN Philadelphia feed; blackout in Canada)

Toronto's Record: 5-17-6 (tenth in East)

Toronto's Last Match: L, 2-1 vs. Chicago

Philadelphia vs. Toronto This Season: 1-1-0 (Philadelphia 0 @ Toronto 1 on May 26; Toronto 0 @ Philadelphia 3 on July 8)

For the Toronto Perspective, Visit Waking The Red

After a two-week break from MLS action, the Philadelphia Union are up north to take on Toronto FC in a Saturday afternoon matinee between two worst teams in the league in terms of points. As our colleagues at Waking The Red put it, you're looking at the game of the week in MLS right here. In looking at the last 13 matches these two clubs have played in MLS, they've won exactly zero times, collected five points in total, and have been outscored 20-10. That's about all you need to know about the sad state of affairs for these two teams. Both had strong surges immediately following changes in management, but it was too late, the standings holes were too big, and the surprise runs didn't last for either team.

Toronto was officially eliminated from postseason contention for the sixth time in its six years of existence earlier this week with their 2-1 loss to visiting Chicago. The Union are still mathematically in the playoff hunt, but realistically, John Hackworth and company know that their playoff hopes are gone as well. There's no way to spin this: these two teams are focused on 2013, not tomorrow. Players are focused on giving coaches and management the best impression possible so that their job will be saved in the inevitable offseason shufflings that are inherent with teams in flux, and not much more. You can't really blame them for that, honestly; it is what it is, though (at least publicly) Union players insist that they are still unified as a team. Instead, what you can ask for as a fan is to see players who you don't usually see, or a formation that you usually haven't seen the team play in. For the Union, you're probably looking to see more of rookie striker Chandler Hoffman. For Toronto, maybe more of mid-season acquisitions Darren O'Dea, the Irish center back, and Quincy Amarikwa. (You know very well what you have in Eric Hassli of course.)

Both of these sides have players with something to prove -- a roster spot to save. The spotlight for Philadelphia is heavily on Freddy Adu, but it should also be on Keon Daniel. Some 13 months into the Adu experiment, he still hasn't found a level of consistency in form, nor has he really found his role on the roster. Porfirio Lopez seems to have taken the role of Toni Stahl this season, so hoping to see something from him might be for naught. For Paul Mariner, it seems like just about everyone on the Toronto roster has to prove their worth. Mariner lashed out hard -- really hard -- at his players after their mid-week home defeat. The Toronto Observer's piece on the loss to Chicago has a good sampling of quotes from Mariner, which is worth a read to get a real picture of the status of this Toronto side that the Union are facing tomorrow.

Projected starters, injury reports, and assorted match notes after the jump...

Likely starters:

Philadelphia: MacMath; G. Farfan, Valdes, Okugo, Williams; Lahoud, Carroll; Adu, M. Farfan, Cruz; McInerney

Toronto: Kocic; Emory, O'Dea, Eckersley, J. Hall; Avila, Maund, Dunfield, Lambe; Silva, Hassli

Injury updates:

For Philadelphia, Krystian Witkowski (concussion symptoms) remains out, while Gabriel Farfan should be available despite a left big toe sprain.

For Toronto, Stefan Frei (lower left leg), Danny Koevermans (left knee ACL tear), Ty Harden (lower abdominal strain), and Torsten Frings (left hip) are all unavailable. Eric Hassli (rib contusion) and Doneil Henry (left knee tendonitis) should both be available. Ashtone Morgan will be unavailable for selection for Toronto due to suspension.

Of note:

  • Silviu Petrescu is listed as tomorrow's match referee. In 54 career MLS matches, Petrescu has called an average of 27.4 fouls per match, handed out an average of 3.6 yellow cards per match, given a total of eight red cards, and has awarded a total of seven penalty kicks.
  • Ashtone Morgan will be serving a suspension for yellow card accumulation tomorrow afternoon. Gabriel Gomez and Michael Farfan are both one yellow card away from receiving an automatic one-match suspension for yellow card accumulation.
  • Fun fact: this will be the seventh match all-time between the Union and Toronto. It will be the sixth one with kickoff before 4:30 PM. The only nighttime match between these two clubs was the first one they ever played, in the Union's third-ever match. You may recall Danny Califf's elbow to Julian de Guzman, which netted Califf a straight red. The ten-man Union side lost 2-1.
  • Toronto hasn't shut out a team in nine matches, or two months' time, since a 1-0 win over New England.
  • The Union haven't won on the road since their 2-1 stoppage-time victory in Carson, California against the Galaxy on July 4.
Two teams equally focused on 2013 doesn't necessarily bode well, but the Union have had a history of making things interesting against Toronto. If you're able to watch the match tomorrow afternoon, we hope you can join us here for a gamethread!
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