Welcome to your open thread for tonight's match-up between Orlando City SC and Toronto FC. It's the second of three scheduled meetings this season and the first of two at BMO Field in Toronto. The two sides will meet again in Toronto on Aug. 22.
Toronto (8-8-4, 28 points) won 2-0 in the previous meeting on April 26 behind a Jozy Altidore brace. Altidore was sent off over the weekend against the New England Revolution and won't play tonight, however, Sebastian Giovinco doesn't require Altidore up top to provide a dangerous attack for the Reds. Michael Bradley has been nursing a knock and may not be available for a Toronto side that is just 1-2-2 in its last five league matches.
Orlando City (7-9-6, 27 points) is coming off its biggest offensive display in MLS to date, beating Columbus Crew SC 5-2 over the weekend in a match where the Lions could have scored about eight goals. That snapped a four-game losing streak and a 0-4-1 skid in all competitions.
Obviously this is a big game for both teams in the Eastern Conference playoff chase. Orlando can leapfrog Toronto with a victory tonight, although the Reds still hold two games in hand on the Lions. That will be tough since captain Kaká did not make the trip with the club. He took to Facebook today on a live video and said he picked up a "small injury" against Columbus and said he should be good to go Saturday vs. Philadelphia.
City will likely still be without right back Rafael Ramos (thigh). Midfielder Lewis Neal trained with the team on Monday and could be available. The team officially parted ways with forward Martin Paterson earlier today in what was called a "mutual agreement" to terminate Pato's contract.
Regardless, we may see a return of Saturday night's effective 4-3-3 formation, which pushed Luke Boden up into a left wing role. With Cristian Higuita, Darwin Ceren and Servando Carrasco all harassing Crew players in the midfield, the Lions were able to overwhelm Columbus and control the game. All three defensive midfielders did a nice job turning breakup play into counter-attacks on Saturday, with Ceren and Higuita each scoring. Let's hope that continues, because without Kaká leading the attack, a more defensive-minded posture might be needed.
Here's your mandatory content to prep for tonight:
- Gavin Ewbank's match preview and final score prediction
- This week's PawedCast previews tonight's match, Saturday's game vs. Philadelphia and gives our predictions for both.
- Austin David on how Cyle Larin is looking to make history
Orlando City (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Tally Hall
Defenders: Corey Ashe, Seb Hines, Aurelien Collin, Tyler Turner
Defensive Midfielders: Cristian Higuita, Darwin Ceren, Servando Carrasco
Forwards: Luke Boden, Cyle Larin, Eric Avila
Bench: Earl Edwards Jr., Conor Donovan, Lewis Neal, Pedro Ribeiro, Estrela, Danny Mwanga, Bryan Rochez
Toronto FC (4-4-2 diamond)
Goalkeeper: Joe Bendik
Defenders: Justin Morrow, Ahmed Kantari, Damien Perquis, Jackson
Midfielders: Jonathan Osorio, Benoit Cheyrou, Marky Delgado, Collen Warner,
Forwards: Sebastian Giovinco, Robbie Findley
Bench: Chris Konopka, Ashtone Morgan, Eriq Zavaleta, Warren Creavalle, Chris Mannella, Jay Chapman, Daniel Lovitz
REF: Silviu Petrescu
AR1: Joe Fletcher
AR2: Gianni Facchini
4TH: Robert Sibiga
How to Watch:
Match time: 8 p.m. (ET)
Venue: BMO Field - Toronto, Ontario, Canada
TV: MY65 (locally) and Sun Sports (regionally)
Radio: 104.1 FM Real Radio (English), La Grande 1030 (Spanish)
Streaming: FOX Sports Go app
Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand, as well as Orlando City's official Twitter feed (@OrlandoCitySC).
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