With the Union firmly out of a funk that saw them score only once in 471 minutes of play, they’ll try to build some form in Canada against a Toronto FC team that now must dig itself out of the hole it dug during their long but ultimately fruitless Concacaf Champions League campaign.
Can the Union keep scoring against an injury-ravaged TFC?
Prior to last week’s 3-2 triumph over DC United, the Union sat dead-last in goals scored in all of MLS. The front four failed to click early on, with offseason additions Bořek Dočkal and David Accam producing only one assist and zero goals through a combined 11 starts. The pair looked much more lively against DCU, though, as Dočkal scored his first and generated a ton of chances, and Accam fired a season-high five shots.
Tonight, the Union travel to Toronto, who are facing the consequences that come along with caring about the Concacaf Champions League. Of the team’s six center backs, four are on the injury report for tonight’s game. Nick Hagglund and captain Drew Moor are listed as out, while Chris Mavinga and Eriq Zavaleta are considered questionable. Jozy Altidore is also out for tonight’s match-up, and Justin Morrow is thought to be questionable as well. TFC have two remaining natural center backs in Jason Hernandez and Julian Dunn, who are 34 and 17, respectively.
Last week, head coach Greg Vanney lined up Gregory van der Wiel and Michael Bradley in the center of defense. The pair shipped two second-half goals in TFC’s 2-2 draw with the Chicago Fire. Bastian Schweinsteiger nodded home a redirected corner kick with ease in the 69th minute, and Alan Gordon brought down a cross and blasted in the stoppage-time equalizer with Michael Bradley an arm’s length away. If Toronto’s backline is anchored by a full back and a center midfielder yet again this week, the Union should be able to add to their still-paltry goal total.
With the CCL in the books, TFC looks to get back on track
While Toronto is certainly banged up, especially in defense, this will be no easy game for the Union. Up until last Thursday, TFC had been focusing everything on the Champions League. Their league-worst record is certainly indicative of that, as they sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and are even with the Union on goals scored, albeit through one fewer game.
Now, with the pain of that CCL Final loss behind them, Toronto will focus on climbing back up the table. Given the run the made in continental play and the depth they added in the offseason, there’s no question that they can do just that, and they’ll look to start against the Union. Though Jozy Altidore and the better part of the defense are out of commission, Víctor Vázquez is back and Sebastian Giovinco has had five days of rest. The game will also be played in Toronto, where Toronto is 14-2-4 in regular season play dating back to last season, not including their 3-0 route of the Union in the first round of the playoffs.
The Union will meet a heavily injured TFC side at BMO Field tonight, but it still might not be enough to claim three—or any—points.
Philadelphia Union: Andre Blake; Keegan Rosenberry, Jack Elliott, Auston Trusty, Raymon Gaddis; Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin; Ilsinho, Bořek Dočkal, David Accam; C.J. Sapong
Toronto FC: Clint Irwin; Auro, Gregory van der Wiel, Michael Bradley, Ashtone Morgan; Marky Delgado; Nicolas Hasler, Ager Aketxe, Víctor Vázquez, Jonathan Osorio; Sebastian Giovinco
How to watch
Where: BMO Field, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
When: 8:00 PM ET, Friday, May 4, 2018
TV: PHL17, TSN 1/3/4/5
Radio: Union Radio