Jozy Altidore

Know Your Opponent: Toronto FC

The Philadelphia Union (6-10-4) hit the road for the first time since the middle of June, heading north of the border to take on Toronto FC (7-7-3). The game will kickoff at 4 p.m. and will be broadcast on CSN.

What you need to know

Toronto FC currently sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference through 17 games, three points behind Columbus Crew SC for second and two points ahead of the Union. Despite temporarily losing Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley to the Gold Cup, Toronto has managed to keep itself in the hunt due to the help of the Atomic Ant, Sebastian Giovinco.

Since starting the season 1-4-0, the team has managed to rebound nicely, including going 3-2-2 in their last seven games. Going into the season, expectations were extremely high due to the team signing Giovinco and Altidore, two proven forwards at the international level, and pairing them with Michael Bradley, current captain of the US Men’s National Team.

Despite having a large fan base in Toronto, the team has struggled with chemistry in the past few years. Signings like Julio Cesar and Jermaine Defoe never managed to translate into positive results for the team. It also didn’t help that last year, Bradley was being played out of his preferred No. 10 position. This year, the ship seems to have been righted.

The only weak point in the Toronto FC team on 2015 has been their defense. In their past six games they have given up 12 goals, including eight in their last two. With all their DP spots allocated to attacking players, Toronto has had to rely on a mismatched group of veterans and younger players to try to cover the backline.

With Canada bowing out of the Gold Cup early, the Reds should also be getting Ashtone Morgan, Jonathan Osorio and Quillan Roberts back in the fold.

Players to watch out for

Sebastian Giovinco, Forward: Giovinco is in many people’s opinions the best player in the MLS right now. It is a travesty that he was somehow left of the MLS All-Star Fan XI. He is the only Toronto player to play and start in all 17 games this season, tallying 11 goals and eight assists.

Jozy Altidore, Forward: Altidore is one of the most physical forwards in the MLS, if not in the world. His size combined with his speed and technical ability are hard to match so it’s a shame that he seems to constantly hampered by injuries. When he is healthy, he is one of the best players in the MLS, as noted by his six goals in 12 games this season.

Chris Konopka, Goalkeeper: Toronto struggled to find a goalkeeper earlier in the season due to a series of injuries, poor form and international call-ups. The former Union keeper has started the last 11 games for Toronto and was on the receiving end of two four-goal games. Konopka is on this list because he will not be playing due to a suspension handed out by the MLS mid-week for a late sliding challenge against an NYCFC player. Veteran Joe Bendik will likely start in his place.

Probable Lineup

4-4-2 Diamond

Goalkeeper: Joe Bendik
Defenders(left to right): Ashtone Morgan, Eriq Zavaleta, Damien Perquis, Justin Morrow
Midfielders(left to right): Jackson, Collen Warner, Benoît Cheyrou, Marco Delgado
Forwards: Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco

Facts and Figures

The Union are 6-3-4 against Toronto FC, including a 2-2-2 record at BMO Field in Toronto. In their most recent meeting on May 2 at PPL Park, Toronto won 1-0 off of a Giovinco free kick.

The Union are coming off a win 3-0 win against the Portland Timbers on Saturday while Toronto is coming off a 4-4 draw against NYCFC on Sunday.

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