Date: Wednesday, August 23rd
Time: 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Central, 5:00 p.m. Pacific, 12:00 a.m. UTC
Venue: BMO Field (Toronto, Ont.)
Referees: REF: ARMANDO VILLARREAL AR1: Peter Manikowski AR2: Corey Parker 4TH: Geoff Gamble VAR: Mark Geiger
Television: United States - CSN Philly; Canada - TSN3, TSN 1050 Toronto, TSN4, TSN5, TSN1
Streaming: TSN GO, MLS Live
All-time record: During the regular season, the Union and Toronto have the most metal record, with six wins, six losses, and six draws. If you include the playoffs, it becomes considerably less metal as Toronto has one win, and Iron Maiden never wrote a song about 6-7-6.
What Toronto will look like
Toronto hasn’t lost since July 1st - an unbeaten run that goes back seven games. They are also a mind-blowing 9W 0L 3D at BMO Field, and are the only club in MLS averaging 2 points a game. This is the best team in Major League Soccer right now.
Benoit Cheyrou and Nick Hagglund are out for Toronto, but they’ve been out for almost a month with no ill effect to the Reds. Sebastian Giovinco has 12 goals in 20 games and Jozy Altidore has 9 in 21, but perhaps the scarier number is the 11 assists Victor Vazquez has in 23 games.
Don’t discount Toronto’s defense though - only Sporting Kansas City (19) has allowed fewer goals than TFC (25). Not surprisingly, Toronto’s +25 goal differential is best in the league by almost double.
What Philadelphia will look like
Coming off of a draw against the San Jose Earthquakes in Northern California would usually be considered a win, except the Union gave up the equalizing goal in stoppage time on an absolutely awful foul by Josh Yaro. The Union haven’t been able to stay out of their own way, dropping points against teams they should and must beat.
If there’s a silver lining, the Union have done well against the top teams in MLS this season. Their last win was a complete dismantling of FC Dallas, so the potential to beat the best when everything comes together is there. They’ll also get Andre Blake back from injury. While John McCarthy has performed admirably, Blake’s presence can’t be understated.
The crux of the Union’s issues come from the 10 position. If either Roland Alberg or Ilsinho has a good game, the Union can come out of this match with points. If as we’ve seen all too often this season they do not rise to the challenge, it will be another long night for the Union faithful.
What to expect
As good as the Union can be, I’m hard pressed to see any signs of being able to consistently be that good. Talen Energy Stadium is no longer the fortress it once was for the Union - not that these things are of a concern to a juggernaut like TFC. While I’m usually among the last to go full Negadelphia, I’m not seeing much in the way of hope for this one. I hope I’m proven wrong.