Toronto FC vs. Colorado Rapids | 2017 MLS Match Preview
Toronto FC vs. Colorado Rapids
2017 MLS Regular Season
BMO Field – Toronto
Saturday, July 22 – 7 pm ET
WATCH: TSN in Canada, MLS LIVE in US
If this time last year was all about the Western Conference, this year the drama in the upper reaches of the East rules all. It's pretty much a bet that this conference will yield this year's Supporters' Shield winner, with New York City FC, the Chicago Fire, and Toronto FC racing neck and neck for that spot.
As such, Toronto will settle for no less than a win during this match-up, especially considering they could only eke out a comeback point on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium, after managing to make it a 2-2 tie with New York City. While the Reds are missing some of their usual starting stars -- Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore among them -- to international duty, that shouldn't hobble them too much. Sebastian Giovinco, though he took a knock in New York, could well make it back onto the pitch. The rest of the squad is pretty much the deepest in the league, anyways.
So where does that leave the Colorado Rapids, going into this? Well, they're going into this one 10th in the West, with literally only losses on the road so far this season. Ouch. If they can come away with a point from this, they'll have plenty to celebrate. But it'll be tough, to say the least.
Toronto's outing in New York provided plenty of drama -- the refs called back what initially would have been Toronto's second goal, then sent head coach Greg Vanney with a red right after. Giovinco sustained a minor injury, and seemed to waffle about staying in the game or not before finally leaving. Luckily, though, they still clawed back for a draw and a point, crucial in their race, currently, to the top of the East.
"Obviously this was not an ideal time for us to be competing for top spot, on the road, in New York City against one of the other league leaders," Vanney said on Wednesday night. "We had a lot of guys step up and prove their value tonight, and it's a positive thing for us."
At home, they'll likely fare much better. And even with a few key guys missing, there's plenty of talent left to go around. Spanish midfielder Victor Vazquez, in particular, is proving an essential component of the lineup right now, while hometown hero Ashtone Morgan tallied a goal as well on Wednesday night. The loud crowds and rattling bleachers at BMO Field will only serve to bolster their motivation.
- Suspended: None
- International duty: Jozy Altidore (USA), Michael Bradley (USA), Armando Cooper (PAN), Raheem Edwards (CAN), Justin Morrow (USA), Jonathan Osorio (CAN), Tosaint Ricketts (CAN)
- Injury Report: OUT: D - Steven Beitashour (abdominal injury, out indefinitely); D - Nick Hagglund (torn MCL); QUESTIONABLE: F - Sebastian Giovinco
Projected Starting XI (3-5-2, right to left): Alex Bono – Jason Hernandez, Drew Moor, Chris Mavinga – Oyvind Alseth, Marco Delgado, Benoit Cheyrou, Victor Vazquez, Ashtone Morgan – Ben Spencer, Tsubasa Endoh
Notes: Toronto has won a franchise-record seven consecutive league matches at BMO Field. They enter this weekend having kept clean sheets in their last three home matches, tied for the longest streak in franchise MLS history (May 17-31, 2008 and May 22-June 27, 2010).
Let's rewind back to where the Rapids were before the Gold Cup break. The not-so-great memory-- just before, they fell to the Sounders 3-1 in Seattle. The better memory -- in the match before that, their attack in fact showed a much-needed spark, leading them to a 3-1 win over the Houston Dynamo. Both Marlon Hairston and Dominique Badji shone during this stretch, with the former especially showing renewed signs of life after moving back to the midfield.
Either way, the big aim going into the break, said head coach Pablo Mastroeni, was to try to get the full squad healthy again. "It will give us a chance to get everyone healthy and it will give us a chance to bring players in,” he said back then, also alluding to the July transfer window. “More importantly, [it will allow us to] continue to work on both sides of the ball. We’ve been stressing to get the ball in advanced areas, being more creative and committing numbers forward."
Saturday will tell if any of that work has proven fruitful.
- Suspended: None
- International duty: GK - Tim Howard (USA)
- Injury Report: OUT: D - Bobby Burling (foot injury); QUESTIONABLE: M - Joshua Gatt (groin injury), D - Axel Sjoberg (hamstring injury)
Projected Starting XI (4-4-2, right to left): Zac MacMath – Dennis Castillo, Mike da Fonte, Eric Miller, Mekeil Williams – Marlon Hairston, Bismark Boateng, Mohammed Saied, Dillon Serna – Kevin Doyle, Dominique Badji
Note: Colorado has lost eight consecutive away matches, one short of the franchise record. They have managed just two goals in those eight games.
- Overall: Toronto 8 wins (18 goals) … Colorado 6 wins, 15 goals … 1 Tie
- At Toronto: Toronto 7 wins (16 goals) … Colorado 1 win (8 goals) … 0 Ties
- Referee: Juan Guzman
- Assistant Referees: Craig Lowry, Peter Balciunas
- Fourth Official: Ricardo Salazar