Match: Harrisburg City Islanders vs Toronto FC II
Date: Saturday, July 1st
Time: 5:00 p.m. Eastern, 4:00 p.m. Central, 2:00 p.m. Pacific, 9:00 p.m. UTC
Venue: Ontario Soccer Centre (Vaughan, Ontario, Canada)
How Toronto will look: Toronto’s struggles this season have all revolved around scoring goals. They’ve only managed to score six goals over their first fifteen matches. To put that another way, they’re on pace to only score one goal for every two and a half matches this season. And here’s another unfortunate statistic, Toronto hasn’t scored a second goal in any of their matches so far this season.
On the flip side, their defense has been solid in most of their matches (basically whenever they’re not playing Charleston). In fact, despite only having two wins so far this season, Toronto’s goalkeepers have managed to collect six clean sheets. Their primary keeper, Angelo Cavalluzzo, is probably their strongest asset right now.
How Harrisburg will look: Harrisburg’s season got a serious boost with last Saturday’s upset win over Louisville City FC. Now with their ten match winless streak in the rear view mirror, they’ll need to focus on stringing together a series of results if they want to move up the table.
The City Islanders have actually had a full week’s rest before this match, so it’s possible that players who had been kept off the pitch due to nagging injuries might be able to make an appearance. The starting XI that took down Louisville was more than capable, but they could only be helped if players like Manolo Sanchez, Jonny Mendoza, or Ropapa Mensah can get some minutes. Of course, it’s also possible that these players will instead be saved for next week’s trip to Rochester.
What to expect: Toronto limps into this match after a 6-1 drubbing at the hands of the Charleston Battery, but they’re not a team that can be dismissed offhand. Both of their wins this season have followed the same pattern, score a goal early and then tighten up on defense. It’s not the flashiest game plan, but that’s what has worked for them.
Harrisburg is riding high after their win, but they can’t get too confident just yet. The City Islanders haven’t exactly been an offensive powerhouse in 2017, so they’re going to have to focus on finding that first goal the same way that Toronto will. When Charleston faced Toronto, they found their best goal scoring opportunities off of set pieces, so Harrisburg might take that approach. But the City Islanders have been poor at earning and converting on set pieces this season. Aaron Wheeler has scored twice this season off of corners, but it’s unlikely that he’ll play.
Based on the recent performances of both sides, the outcome with the highest probability is that the defenses for both teams will step up and the final result will be a 0-0 draw. Harrisburg has had two in 2017 and Toronto has has an astounding four. But nobody likes a 0-0 draw, so let’s hope that doesn’t happen.
PREDICTION: Harrisburg builds on their good fortune and picks up a 1-0 win.