Match: Penn FC vs Toronto FC II
Date: Saturday, June 9th
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)
Refs: REF: THOMAS SNYDER AR1: PATRICK CASEY AR2: DUSTIN KILLICK 4TH: BOBBY CORDREY
How to Watch: ESPN+ (Subscription Required)
How Toronto FC II will look: It’s only been a month since these two teams met, but a lot has changed for TFCII. For starters, they have a new head coach in Michael Rabasca after their previous coach Laurent Guyot left for a head coaching opportunity in Europe. They also picked up new goalkeeper Borja Angoitia from Rio Grande Valley FC Toros. This was a necessary signing after Angelo Cavalluzzo went down with an achilles tear during the last Penn FC match.
TFCII has played four matches since they last met Penn FC, losing all four. They were shut out by Ottawa Fury, but they proved to be tricky opponents for Charlotte Independence and the Tampa Bay Rowdies. The most interesting match they had during that stretch was a heartbreaking 5-4 loss to ATL UTD 2. So while they don’t have a win yet in 2018, TFCII is a dangerous team that can’t be overlooked.
How Penn FC will look: Penn FC has only played two USL matches since their last meeting with TFC II, but they supplemented those with a win and a loss in Open Cup play. Last week’s loss at Nashville was a disappointing result, but there were several areas of improvement in their play. Most importantly, they managed to outshoot their opponents 14-10 with five shots on goal. Prior to that performance, their lack of shots had been a major problem this season.
Of course, going along with their lack of shots has been a lack of goals. Tommy Heinemann leads the team with three goals and defender Ken Tribbett is right behind him with two goals this season. Oddly enough, only midfielder to net a goal for Penn FC so far this season is Miguel Jaime who scored the winner against TFCII. But based on how well they scored during their Open Cup matches, this is due to change soon.
What to expect: The last time these teams met, the game ended up being a weird one. For starters, it was at 11am on a Wednesday after Penn FC had already played the Monday before. There was also a straight red card for TFCII, a saved penalty, and a late Penn FC goal followed by a TFCII defender having to change kits and step into the net in place of an injured keeper. Like I said, it was weird.
Don’t expect this match to unfold the same way. Penn FC might be thinking about resting some players ahead of their Tuesday match against Richmond, but I expect them to have most of their first choice starting XI available. Their offense and midfield should be similar to the lineup they used against Nashville after those players managed plenty of shots during that match. Perhaps Calvin Rezende or Jerry Ortiz will get a start after energetic performances as substitutes in Nashville.
After allowing three goals in their last match, they might shuffle some of the defenders to get a new look on the back line. Maybe Harri Hawkins returns to the starting lineup, for example. TFCII doesn’t have any strikers at the same level as Brandon Allen or Ropapa Mensah, so the defense will be aiming to pick up their sixth clean sheet of the season.
TFCII will want to follow the same gameplan that nearly got them a win on City Island in 2017. Sink back on defense, but load with speed up front in order to test the high press used by Penn FC. A goal on a counter would leave Penn FC scrambling as they have not done well when digging themselves out of a hole this season.
Penn FC can avoid this by scoring their first goal early. Scoring is not something they’ve been great at, so getting one early would really take the pressure off. Just look at how things went during the Tampa Bay match. They’ve had much of their goal scoring success off of set pieces, so look for them to try and possess the ball in Toronto’s third a lot while taking opportunities for corner kicks as they come.
PREDICTION: This one could be wild and crazy, but I don’t think it’ll get too out of hand. I think the boys in blue get it done at home against Toronto FC II by a 2-0 scoreline.