The Union start a three games in nine-day stretch at Toronto tomorrow night. How will the Union do coming off a win against DC? Our writers share their thoughts. Here’s the latest installment of Philly Sports Network Union Crew Preview: Will Union build off win or fall to reigning MLS Champs?
The Boys in Blue head TO Toronto FC this Friday night with hopes of continuing their positive vibes from the win over D.C. United. Borek Dockal and the Union got off the schneid last week, scoring for the first time in weeks, and Dockal his first goal in MLS. The ball movement was much better with Ilsinho in the lineup and he will no doubt get the nod for this match as well. Fabinho being returning from injury at left back will most likely be the only change in the starting lineup.
Compared to the Union playing only four matches last month, Toronto, competing also in the CONCACAF Champions League, competed in seven matches, including a ton of travel and two trips south of the border. This will be their first MLS match in quite a while in which they’ve had a week to rest and prepare for their opponent. Working against them will be injuries to center back Drew Moor and forward Jozy Altidore. This has forced U.S. national midfielder Michael Bradley to patrol the back line and puts the onus on forward Sebastian Giovinco to handle the scoring load.
What doesn’t bode well for the Union, is that Toronto is even more desperate than they are for a win. Also, the quality between the defending champions and D.C. United will be starkly contrasted on the field Friday night. I’m predicting the Union go 1-1-1 on the upcoming road trip. Unfortunately, this one will be the loss.
Score: Toronto FC – 2 Union-1
Union man of the match – Ilsinho
The first Friday in May delivers a very difficult match-up for Philadelphia Union when they face-off against Toronto FC tomorrow night. Union head coach Jim Curtin chose his words carefully Wednesday afternoon when discussing his next opponent. More than a few times, Curtin acknowledged the stacked roster Toronto showcases, labeling their roster one of the best Major League Soccer has ever seen. And they’re a bit depleted. Yet still extremely dangerous.
Toronto FC hasn’t won an MLS game since March 30th, as they’ve been a bit preoccupied with the CONCACAF Champions League. Curtin mentioned the match-up tomorrow night comes at a very scary time for his crew as Toronto will be fierce and hungry for a pivotal result after failing to secure their CONCACAF glory.
Yet, perhaps this challenge comes at an opportune time for Philadelphia as they begin a difficult stretch of three games over the next nine days away from home. For a young team who hasn’t performed at their highest levels throughout the first two months of the season, the Union can try to bond and unite as a club amidst high levels of adversity to try to salvage some points away from home. The 2018 Union will look to be more attack minded away from home compared to years past with increased pressure and a higher line of confrontation. But they may be burnt a few times against a highly-skilled Toronto team.
Expect a more entertaining road match than normal as Philly will likely struggle to hold on for 90+ minutes. The first and last 10-15 minutes of each half will decide the match. Those chunks of time in the middle of the first and the middle of the second will likely house less action but the young backline Curtin proudly rolls out each week will need to remain highly focused with a dynamic midfield/attacking duo in Michael Bradley and Sebastian Giovinco running at them all night. Keep an eye out for Ale Bedoya to be the difference maker if Philadelphia seeks to steal a point and a road draw against Toronto.
Score 2-2 DRAW. Which I know is extremely optimistic, but with a few injuries to Toronto’s crew and a very difficult stretch of MLS and CONCACAF play over the last few weeks, Philadelphia may be able to stun them. I can reasonably see Philly snagging just 2 points out of an available 9 during this road stretch. Draws will be the goal. 0-1-2
Score: Toronto – 2 Union – 2
Union Man of the Match : Ale Bedoya
Coming off a huge win, the Union take on one of the toughest opponents in the east, even though they are the bottom dwellers of the east. Toronto’s standing at the moment does not reflect the team’s talent, and their capability. Toronto is riddled with injuries, but they are the deepest team in MLS. Whether or not that means Michael Bradley plays center back or the number six role, or if Jozy Altidore is out due to injury there are still enough weapons to bury the Union.
The key to Toronto lies on the atomic ant. Giovinco is only 5’4” but he has single-handedly been able to tear apart the Union. This coming match may be his time to do that again. Toronto have yet to get a foothold in MLS play this year due to their long CONCACAF Champions league campaign. This coming Friday presents the opportunity they have been waiting for.
The Union’s young back line will have a tough test keeping Giovinco and company out of dangerous areas. While the optimist in me hopes that this Union team can hang with a confidence depleted Toronto side, I see them falling to the reigning champs in this one.
Score: Toronto – 2 Union – 1
Union Man of the Match – Keegan Rosenberry
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Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports