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Match Preview: Penn FC vs Toronto FC II

It’s the finale at FNB Field

Penn FC

Match: Penn FC vs Toronto FC II

Date: Saturday, October 13th

Time: 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 p.m. Central, 4:00 p.m. Pacific, 11:00 p.m. UTC

Venue: FNB Field (City Island. Harrisburg, PA)

How to Watch: ESPN + (Subscription Required)

How Toronto will look: Toronto will finish at the bottom of the Eastern Conference table for 2018 and there’s no result on Saturday night that could change that. But this is a very different squad from the team that had to wait until the end of July to find their first win. Toronto has grown more dangerous as the year goes on. They just had a gutsy draw against Nashville SC and they gave FC Cincinnati everything they wanted during a visit in September.

The three most dangerous players to watch for Toronto are Tsubasa Endoh and the dual Jordans of Hamilton and Perruzza. Jordan Hamilton scored on City Island earlier in the season, and Saturday will be Penn FC’s first chance to see the other two this year. The defense will need to stay on their toes because, as Nashville learned, these players can generate scoring opportunities with alarming quickness.

How Penn FC will look: Penn FC will finish 13th on the Eastern Conference table for 2018 and no result on Saturday night will change that. Saturday night’s game is also going to be the last one for the team until at least 2020 as they prepare to go on hiatus. It’s unclear where they’ll be playing when they return, but it won’t be at FNB Field. That’s about the only thing that’s certain right now.

So with all of the off-the-field concerns for Penn FC, what’s going to be on the player’s minds Saturday night? Every player will need to find a new team next season, so it’ll be in their best interests to pad their stats a bit with some goals or assists. Lucky Mkosana and Richie Menjivar will probably be pushing the hardest as Lucky sits at eleven goals while Menjivar has eight assists for 2018.

Saturday’s match will be the last for Penn FC defender Tiago Calvano. The 37 year old spent the last two seasons in Harrisburg and he finishes a long, successful career that included stints in Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Australia, and the United States.

What to Expect: It’s a season finale between two teams who are eliminated from the playoffs who are leaving the league at the end of the season. This is a textbook “expect the unexpected” type game.

Toronto’s offense has been on fire lately, but their defense is still an issue. They’ve allowed seventy-seven goals in 2018, which is tied for worst in the USL. If Penn FC is worried about Endoh or Hamilton scoring late then their best option is to try and run up multiple goals early. During the last match on City Island, Ken Tribbett headed in two goals. He’s probably out, but that means that Kyle Venter and Tiago Calvano could have a few chances to score in his place.

If Toronto wants to counter this approach, then they should pull defenders back early to keep Penn FC from getting many good looks at goal. If they can keep things close until the last fifteen minutes or so, they can use a player like Perruzza as a super sub to slip past the Penn FC defenders and net a few quick goals.

Penn FC’s secret weapon is that they should have a healthy cheering section for this match. The team is offering free tickets for anyone wearing City Islanders or Penn FC gear. In addition, there will be post-game fireworks, which usually helps bring out a bigger crowd.

PREDICTION: Since this will be my last match preview for a long time, I’m going with the Wayne’s World Super Happy prediction. Penn FC wins 3-0 behind a goal from Lucky, a banger from Aaron Dennis, and a header for Tiago Calvano during his retirement match.