Preview: Philadelphia look to stay on top of East at Toronto
Toronto FC remain home to take on the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Union on Saturday afternoon at BMO Field. TFC endured an abandoned match at midweek in the Canadian Championship as they chase the first hardware of the season; they’ve played to two consecutive draws. Union ended a winless run at three games and reclaimed the top spot in the West last weekend in a 2-1 win against Chicago.
REFEREE: Niko Bratsis. SAR (bench): Claudio Badea; JAR (opposite): Jason Cullum; 4th: Ricardo Salazar
MLS Career: 1 games; FC/gm: 21.0; Y/gm: 5.0; R: 0; pens: 0
INJURY REPORT: TORONTO FC – OUT: MF Elbekay Bouchiba (R knee surgery recovery); MF Jacob Peterson (L hamstring); QUESTIONABLE: FW Alan Gordon (adductor strain); MF Gianluca Zavarise (adductor strain); MF Tony Tchani (R hamstring) … PHILADELPHIA UNION – OUT: GK Thorne Holder (concussion); MF Amobi Okugo (L ankle sprain); MF Zach Pfeffer (appendectomy); QUESTIONABLE: MF Stefani Miglioranzi (R groin strain); PROBABLE: FW Danny Mwanga (L hamstring strain); FW Carlos Ruiz (R hip flexor strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
WARNINGS: SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: PHI: Danny Mwanga. SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: TOR: Dan Gargan, Javier Martina … PHI: Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf
- ALL-TIME (2 meetings): Toronto FC 1 win, 3 goals … Union 1 win, 3 goals … Ties 0
- AT TORONTO (1 meeting): Toronto FC 1 win, 2 goals … Union 0 wins, 1 goal … Ties 0
- RETURN MATCH: 10/15: Philadelphia Union vs. Toronto FC, 4 p.m. (TSN)
LAST YEAR (MLS):
- 4/15: TOR 2, PHI 1 (De Rosario 35, 81 – Harvey 45)
- 7/17: PHI 2, TOR 1 (Orozco Fiscal 61; Le Toux 90 – Barrett 81)
- Each team won at home last year in the two meetings Union’s inaugural season by a 2-1 scoreline.
- Coaches record: Peter Nowak vs. TOR: P2 W1 L1 D0 … Aron Winter v PHI: first game
Toronto FC recorded a draw for a second consecutive match in league play, reaching a scoreless result with the Colorado Rapids on Sunday evening at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. TFC has 12 points from 12 games on the season, in a tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference to open the week.
- Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens was the busier of the two on the night, making three saves, including one on a close-range effort from Nick Soolsma just before halftime. Mikael Yourassowsky also blasted a shot off the crossbar in the 62nd minute.
- TFC goalkeeper Stefan Frei made two saves for his third shutout, his second this season in a scoreless draw.
- TFC head coach Aron Winter made four changes to the team that played to a 2-2 draw with the Chicago Fire at BMO Field. It was an all-change midfield, with Alen Stevanovic, Nathan Sturgis and Mikael Yourassowsky coming in for - Julian de Guzman, Jacob Peterson and Tony Tchani, and Javier Martina started up top for Maicon Santos.
- TORONTO FC (4-3-3): Stefan Frei - Richard Eckersley, Dicoy Williams, Adrian Cann (Ty Harden 76), Dan Gargan - Alen Stevanovic, Nathan Sturgis (Nana Attakora 84), Mikael Yourassowsky - Nick Soolsma, Javier Martina, Joao Plata (Maicon Santos 60).
- Toronto FC were shut out for the fifth time in the last eight games at Colorado, but still managed to come away with a second scoreless draw in that stretch.
- “We had some shots and if some moments of the game were different we could have gotten three points,” Winter said. “We had a big opportunity before halftime. Just some different outcomes on plays and we could have got the points.”
- With Julian de Guzman already out through suspension, Winter had to replace his entire midfield when both Tony Tchani and Jacob Peterson suffered hamstring injuries in Vancouver in the first leg of the Canadian Championship.
- “We started very offensive and more play in the midfield, I am glad that we got the tie because the guys played very well, especially since there were some players that I could not start with due to some of the regular XI being a little injured,” Winter said.
- Toronto FC were able to keep a clean sheet in league play for the first time since April 13 (the scoreless draw vs. LA Galaxy). They had allowed 11 goals in their previous six MLS games.
- “From the outset we decided to keep it tight and to keep everything wide and think that we did that today. We proved that we could go into games like this, tough games, and keep clean sheets,” said right back Richard Eckersley.
- Joao Plata, was called into Ecuador’s national team for the first time, for a pair of friendlies June 1 vs. Canada and June 7 against Greece in New York. Plata has been a part of the last four goals TFC has scored in league play (2 goals, 2 assists).
- On Wednesday, the second leg of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship final was abandoned after 61 minutes due to heavy rain and lightning at BMO Field. Eric Hassli had given Vancouver a lead in the first half, but the game was first delayed at the halftime break, then shortly after the hour mark.
- Under NCC rules the game must be replayed in its entirety, the replay date set for July 2 at BMO Field. The clubs will play earlier that week (Wednesday, June 29 at 7:30 p.m.) in a regularly scheduled MLS encounter. The aggregate score is still tied 1-1 after TFC’s win May 18 in Vancouver; the winner claims the Voyageurs Cup and the CONCACAF Champions League berth that comes along with it.
- "It's not fair, really," Winter said. "But in this case, we are just playing by the rules."
Philadelphia Union put an end to their winless run at three games, getting a late goal for a 2-1 win against the Chicago Fire on Saturday evening at PPL Park. Union have 17 points from 10 matches on the year leading the Eastern Conference to start the week.
- Union took the lead in the 64th minute when Michael Farfan took a pass from Kyle Nakazawa on a free kick from the left flank, and struck a low, driving shot from outside the box that deflected past the Fire’s Jon Conway.
- Just four minutes later, however, Fire winger Dominic Oduro rounded Farfan on the right side of the area and poked a shot past Union ’keeper Faryd Mondragón from a tight angle.
- Yet Union regained the lead in the 75th minute. After Carlos Ruiz saw his free kick blocked, he chased down the deflection and looped a high-arching shot from about 40 yards out that sailed over Conway’s head, hit the bottom of the crossbar and bounced straight down over the goal line.
- Union manager Peter Nowak made two changes to the team that fell 2-0 to FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park. Michael Farfan came into the midfield for Roger Torres and Carlos Ruiz started up top for Danny Mwanga.
- PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-4-2): Faryd Mondragon - Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes, Danny Califf, Jordan Harvey (Roger Torres 58) - Michael Farfan, Brian Carroll, Amobi Okugo (Kyle Nakazawa 5), Justin Mapp - Sebastien Le Toux, Carlos Ruiz (Gabriel Farfan 81).
- Union had scored just six goals through their first nine games, before hitting for two in the win against the
- Chicago Fire, the first time they’d scored multiple goals in a game this season.
- “It feels good,” goalscorer Carlos Ruiz said. “In the end, this is a result of the effort of everybody. And that’s good thing. After the last three games we played, we needed this victory. We really needed these three points. And now, this is motivation for everybody. I think we can do well this year, but we have to be honest: We have to fix a couple things.”
- Union also regained the top spot in the Eastern Conference after sitting there for the first five weeks of the season, for the first time in club history.
- “This is very important,” Nowak said. “But we are not going to take the foot off the pedal right now. It’s three points right now and we go back to the drawing board. We go back to work. I think it’s a crucial time in this part of the season. It’s the mental part that is vital in how we’re going to approach the final part of the season or the second part of the season.”
- With Danny Mwanga out injured – the first game he’s missed this season – Nowak again opted to pair Ruiz and Sebastien Le Toux in a traditional strike pair.
- “Seba and Carlos look for each other too much even. There were a couple of chances they could have taken advantage of by themselves but which of you knows best,” Nowak said. “They can take both of their strengths from there and make sure they understand each other. Make sure the combination is so they won’t get trapped and they pay attention to the defenders.”
- Nowak had also started Amobi Okugo and Brian Carroll as a pair of holding midfielders. But that plan changed very early on, when Okugo suffered a high ankle sprain, that meant Kyle Nakazawa came on and Michael Farfan moved into the center of midfield, playing higher than Carroll.
- “When Naka comes in, he’s a different player than Amobi is,” said Danny Califf. “Just managing different player’s tendencies – Naka goes forward more than Amobi does. So, we have to be more organized when we have the ball. But Naka did a great job. He came in and won a lot of balls, he supported the attack, and that’s what we expect out of him.”
- Justin Mapp maintained his role of providing much of the attacking thrust out of the midfield, playing from a wide role on the left. “Justin Mapp had a great game,” Nowak said. “He was visible, he was trying to move defenders and help us also in the midfield to create some things.”
- Mwanga and Stefani Miglioranzi, who is out with a groin strain, are still in question for availability this weekend.
- “There was not really anything we could do in a short period of time,” Nowak said of having Mwanga for the Chicago match. “We decided for 20 minutes (of playing time), we were not going to take a risk.” Mwanga said:“That’s what I’m shooting for (the Toronto game). We’ll see how it goes this week,” while Miglioranzi said: “I’m not sure about next week. There was a slight tear in there. … We’ll see what happens.”