Know Your Enemy: Toronto FC

It has been a week of 2-0s for Toronto FC. First they punked Orlando City SC in Orlando despite giving up a bevy of shots in the box. Then they slid up north to Atlanta and lost 2-0 while getting exactly zero shots on frame.

There are some partial explanations at play, but it’s difficult to know a lot about this weekend’s enemy right now.

Wait, there is one thing we know for sure: This Alejandro Pozuelo fella is a real one.

Playing as a supporting striker/creator/all-around-ball-hawking-playmaker, Pozuelo has been terrifyingly good this season. He puts as many shots on goal per game as Zlatan while collecting a greater Expected Assists per game number than, well, anybody with at least 300 minutes played (according to American Soccer Analysis). The Giovinco Replacement is not a spare part; he’s a different kind of player but dangerous nonetheless.

Pozuelo and Michael Bradley were the two key holdovers that started both matches for TFC this week. Around them, Greg Vanney rotated heavily, giving Marky Delgado, Jonathan Osorio, and Chris Mavinga a break against Atlanta United. The result was a loose 4-4-2 defensive shape that got pulled apart with relative ease in transition and occasionally broke down when Josef Martinez yanked on the defensive line with dropping runs.

When the Union come to town, count on Osorio and Delgado returning to midfield. That means TFC will be extremely active and very good at finding any pockets of space between Philly’s defensive and midfield lines.

The key matchup to watch will be Michael Bradley against Jamiro Monteiro. There’s always a chance Monteiro moves deeper and Marco Fabián starts at the tip of the spear, but given how well Monteiro hunted Samuel Piette against Montreal, Curtin may use him to do the same against the man that starts many of Toronto’s best moves.

The Union travel to Toronto looking to hold onto first place in the Eastern Conference on Saturday, May 11 at 3:00 p.m. ET on PHL17.

 

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