FCC-Toronto FC Preview
While Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney continues to feel the heat from portions of a disgruntled fan base, it's likely more regulars will be back in his starting XI this weekend.
Hoping to move back above the playoff line in the Eastern Conference, TFC tries to avoid a second consecutive loss while looking to hand visiting FC Cincinnati its third straight defeat Saturday night.
Last Saturday against Houston, Toronto (8-5-9) was in position to match its season high with a third straight victory. But, since it was playing a third league match in eight days, Vanney opted to keep stars Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley out of the starting lineup, and didn't even play fellow veteran Omar Gonzalez. This while young star Alejandro Pozuelo (nine goals, eight assists in 18 MLS games) was rested due to an ankle injury.
With several non-regulars in the starting XI, Toronto ultimately fell 3-1 to a Dynamo squad that was mired in the longest road losing streak in club history. Vanney's personnel decisions did not sit well with some of the club's supporters, who voiced their displeasure on social media.
Vanney, who told the Toronto Sun that his lineup decision was a "calculated risk," reportedly was looking more big picture than immediate gratification. Trying to rest players while also offering an opportunity to others against a side that had struggled coming into the match somewhat made sense, but backfired in the end.
"It didn't work for us in terms of rotating the guys," Vanney told the MLS official website. "It was an opportunity, it should've been (a good one for) guys that were eager to go out and push it, and prove something, and it just came out real slow and passive."
One would assume Vanney will put out as close to a first-choice lineup as possible for this contest. And certainly won't take anything for granted, even against Cincinnati (5-15-2), which has been outscored 6-1 in dropping two straight after winning back-to-back matches versus Houston and Chicago to open July.
"We regroup, get ready for a big game Saturday," Bradley, who came on as a sub for the first time in his Toronto tenure, told the club's official website.
It's uncertain if Pozuelo will return to the pitch Saturday for Toronto, but recently acquired center back Maikel van der Werff could make his Cincinnati debut in this contest.
Cincinnati was blanked for the first time in five games, 2-0 at home to New England on Sunday.
"It's disappointing," goalkeeper Spencer Richey told Cincinnati's official website.
"We started out (the month) with two wins, maybe we (got) too high on those wins. Coming back home with two opportunities to get points and then come away with zero is disappointing."
FCC does have a chance to win back-to-back road contests for the first time during its inaugural season after winning 2-1 at Chicago on July 13.
Updated July 25, 2019