Midweek action ain't stopping anytime soon around these parts.
Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves and first take a look at what's on tap across four MLS matches Wednesday night:
Who plays fullback for ATL?
Atlanta United vs Houston Dynamo | 7 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, DAZN in Canada
It's a conundrum for Atlanta United on Wednesday.
Left back has been a revolving door all season, with one fewer option after Brek Shea's unfortunate season-ending knee injury. Regular right back Franco Escobar will also miss the game due to a suspension. Mikey Ambrose and George Bello are out with injuries, too. Now what?
Michael Parkhurst is likely to return to the starting lineup. Flo Pogba, who left Atlanta's draw against the Red Bulls in the first half with an injury, will be a candidate if he's fit. Julian Gressel can play right back. They could always drop back to three center backs, though that'd give Justin Meram (or whoever plays on the left flank on Wednesday) heightened defensive responsibilities. That seems likeliest. It's not perfect, but it'll have to do.
Debut for Bou?
New England Revolution vs. Vancouver Whitecaps | 7 pm ET | TSN in Canada, MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US
New England's new Designated Player is eligible to make his debut.
Gustavo Bou was signed for a club-record fee from Club Tijuana that's reported to be in the range of $6-7 million. Given the early success of New England's other DP, Carles Gil, as well as the eight-game unbeaten run following Brad Freidel's dismissal, expectations are high for the Argentine. And he knows it.
“Obviously, they brought me here to score a lot of goals – for the goals I’ve been scoring in Mexico – and I hope to continue doing that here,” Bou told media on Tuesday.
Sounds like a plan!
Time running out?
Chicago Fire vs. Columbus Crew | 8 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, DAZN in Canada
It reached a nadir for the Fire, falling to FC Cincinnati at home last weekend. They slipped further away from the playoff line in a week that lined up favorable to start climbing back up. It's not quite over yet, but it's not looking great. A week playing the 11th- and 12th-placed teams in the Eastern Conference at home ending with one or no points won't inspire much confidence moving forward.
As for the Crew, they're now 1-13-1 in their last 15 MLS games. It's been a tough start to Caleb Porter's return to Ohio. They showed positive signs against Orlando City, but couldn't find a goal in their 1-0 loss.
How will Toronto deal with RBNY's press?
Toronto FC vs. New York Red Bulls | 8 pm ET | TSN in Canada, MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US
At full strength on the weekend, Toronto FC opted for a 4-2-3-1 with Alejandro Pozuelo underneath Jozy Altidore. The roster looks well-tailored to continue in that formation and should be expected to do so when the New York Red Bulls come to town.
Matt Doyle noted that Toronto's passing sequences and movements weren't totally optimized in their first game at full strength in a while, which was to be expected. It didn't harm them against the Montreal Impact, who are at their best when they sit in a low block and counter. What will they do against the Red Bulls' press, though?
The Red Bulls beat NYCFC on Sunday, despite the Cityzens finding a ton of space with their wingbacks in the first half. When they tried to pass through the press in the second half, rather than bypass it, it didn't work very well.