Scouting report: A breakdown of what to expect from Saturday's opponent Toronto FC
Toronto FC: it seems like the club is stuck in a perpetual cycle of front office and personnel changes, which is arguably the reason TFC still seeks its first playoff berth since joining Major League Soccer in 2007.
The ship seemed to have stabilized this season under head coach Ryan Nelsen and general manager Kevin Payne. But then Payne was fired last month and replaced with Tim Bezbatchenko, a salary cap specialist who worked previously as the league's "Senior Director of Player Relations and Competition."
For now, it looks like the non-stop roster shaping will continue.
This season, the club is sitting on 26 points with a 5-15-11 record heading into tomorrow's match against the Union (7:30 p.m., purchase tickets).
Despite the poor season, both games against Philadelphia this year ended in 1-1 draws, and could have easily been wins for the Reds. In each case, Jack McInerney scored in stoppage time to salvage a point for the Union. Toronto had a man sent off and conceded late goals while defending under pressure.
TFC is fresh off a 4-1 home win against D.C. United, but I wouldn't put too much stock into that victory. United coach Ben Olsen rested his starters ahead of the U.S. Open Cup final and played mostly second stringers in the loss.
Still, Toronto looked good going forward, and they've got a new face up top in Bright Dike. The former Timbers striker was acquired through trade last month and brings a good blend of both size and speed to the frontline. He's listed at 6'1" and 220 pounds, but he moves very well for a bigger guy.
You might see leading goal scorer Robert Earnshaw back on the field for this game. Earnshaw scored at PPL Park in April and is returning from a minor calf injury. Other options up top include Andrew Wiedeman and Justin Braun.
There's a good young central midfield core of Jonathan Osorio and Matias Laba. The latter will be missing through injury, so look for Darel Russell or Jeremy Hall to start in the holding role. Hall leads all field players in minutes this season and Russell has played well in the last few games.
Wide midfield is improved with the recent performances of Bobby Convey and Alvaro Rey. Convey, of course, is an MLS veteran and provides good service from the flanks. Rey has some creative ability and looks to be transitioning from the Spanish game to the American game.
The return of captain Steven Caldwell bodes well for TFC. He was missing last week due to red card suspension and Gale Agbossoumonde picked up for him in central defense. Caldwell is first choice center back with Doneil Henry, so that's probably the look we'll see on Saturday.
Thinking 22-year-old Ashtone Morgan is your first choice left back, but you probably won't recognize Mark Bloom over at right back. He was signed mid-season on loan from NASL side Atlanta and is currently beating out longtime starter Richard Eckersley and former Union fullback Ryan Richter on the depth chart.
Possible Starting XI: Bendik (GK), Morgan, Caldwell, Henry, Bloom, Convey, Osorio, Russell, Rey, Earnshaw, Dikee
Have any thoughts on Toronto's potential lineup? Leave them in the comments below.
Contact Union writer Kevin Kinkead at firstname.lastname@example.org