Scouting Report: Toronto FC
The chances of Toronto FC making the playoffs were slim to none, but those hopes went out the window officially when Paul Mariner's side lost 2-1 against Chicago on Wednesday night.
Toronto has not made the playoffs in six years as a Major League Soccer franchise.
Saturday's game will be a matchup of Eastern Conference sides looking to forget their disappointing seasons and finish 2012 on a positive note.
Philadelphia is 3-2-1 all time against Toronto. The Union shutout TFC 3-0 at PPL Park back in July. On Memorial Day weekend, Toronto defeated the Union 1-0 to earn their first win of the season and break a winless streak of nine games.
With injuries and international duty hampering his lineup, Mariner put out a piecemeal squad on Wednesday night. Forward Eric Hassli, acquired from Vancouver this Summer, paired Quincy Amarikwa in a basic 4-4-2 formation. Hassli was picked up after the July matchup at PPL Park and did not travel to Philadelphia with Vancouver back in March.
Starting striker Ryan Johnson had just returned from international duty with Jamaica and did not play on Wednesday night.
The Reds are also without leading goal scorer Danny Koevermans, who was really starting to find his form before suffering a season-ending ACL injury in New England. It's not the same team without the threat of Koevermans in and around the penalty area.
Mariner used Reggie Lambe and Andrew Wiedeman as his wide midfielders on Wednesday night.
He also seems to have found the best spot for standout rookie Luis Silva. The youngster was deployed as an attacking midfielder behind Hassli and Amarikwa, and looked dangerous going forward. He picked up a quality assist on Toronto's lone goal, and seems to be at his best in a second striker/playmaker role with freedom to roam in the final third.
As if the loss of Koevermans wasn't enough, fellow Designated Player Torsten Frings is also out for the season with a hip injury. The German veteran provided that much needed stability in Toronto's defensive midfield, a stability that wasn't there on Wednesday night with Aaron Maund filling the role.
TFC will, however, get Terry Dunfield back on Saturday. The Canadian international could slot in behind Silva in Mariner's 4-4-2.
Toronto did shore up their backline with the addition of Ireland international Darren O'Dea. The former Celtic man provides some quality on the backline and gives TFC some flexibility in that department. Mariner can now use Richard Eckersley or Logan Emory as center halves, or left and right fullbacks in a pinch.
Ashtone Morgan has been a bright spot at left back for Toronto this season but misses out on Saturday after picking up a yellow card midweek against Chicago Fire. Jeremy Hall is your probable starter at right back if Eckersley pairs O'Dea centrally.
Goalkeeper Milos Kocic is also back in net after a string of games were played by backup Freddy Hall.
Philadelphia is 1-2-0 all time at BMO Field. Toronto won 2-1 at BMO in 2010, but the Union crushed the reds in 2011 by a 6-2 scoreline. That was Philadelphia's highest scoring game and most impressive road game in franchise history.
Despite playing at home on Wednesday night, Toronto was out-shot, out-possessed, and out-passed by Chicago. The Fire had 22 attempts on goal, compared to 17 for TFC. Chicago also enjoyed about 51% of the possession, playing 404 passes against Toronto's 383.
Toronto remains dead last in Major League Soccer, with 50 goals allowed. Portland and Montreal have given up 46 goals each.
TFC's 31 goals scored is a bit better than their "goals allowed" statistic. The reds have scored more goals this year than Philadelphia, Vancouver, Portland, and Chivas USA. Ironically enough, however, Toronto has scored just 14 of those 31 goals at BMO Field.