• Dan Berridge

Preview: Toronto FC (a).

Updated: May 14

When? Saturday May 14 12 p.m. PT, 3 p.m. ET and 8 p.m. BST.

Where? BMO Field, Toronto.

How can I catch the action? The game will be broadcast on TSN (Canada), MLS Live on ESPN+ for residents of North America. The game will also be on Fox 35 Plus and LionNation TV for residents of Central Florida. Radio commentary will be ok Accion 97.9 FM and Real Radio 104.1. For us UK folk it's FreeSports.


Oscar Pareja's Orlando City moved quickly to address the defeat in Montréal by knocking out eastern conference leaders Philadelphia Union, to advance to the last 32 of the U.S. Open Cup in midweek. They'll be looking for further redemption against Bob Bradley's Toronto FC.


In terms of the standings, there's been precious little improvement for TFC, they're still basement dwelling, even if the season is still in its relative infancy. Make no mistake, though. This is another tough game for Orlando, who need to find some consistency if they hope to reach the MLS Cup play-offs come the end of the season.

Toronto's style


It's been a turbulent couple of years for TFC. Since the sacking of Chris Armas last season, things seem to have gone from bad to worse for the Canadian outfit. The departure of key players such as Kemar Lawrence, Richie Laryea and Yeferson Seteldo in the winter has ensured this season will be very much one of transition. It's shaping up to be just that too; 4 straight defeats has left Toronto in a less than ideal position in the standings. They're only 3 points below the play-off line currently, but they'll need to find some form soon if they are to stop the gap from widening.

They've struggled to create much at all in an attacking sense so far this season (figure 1). Their style used to be to spread the pitch, push their full-backs high and attack down the sides. They just don't seem to have the same level of creativity anymore, although they do seem fairly clinical; they have an XG of 11.1, but have scored 16 goals. This number has been beefed up by the form of Jesus Jimenez who has 7 goals on the season so far, with an XG of 3.43. The Spaniard has been in clinical form so far in 2022 (figure 2).


Defensively, it's also been a struggle. TFC has conceded an average of 2 goals per game so far in MLS. They can be got at, for sure. Michael Bradley doesn't have the legs he used to, so runners from Orlando's midfield could have some joy. Despite all this, they do have good players. Particularly in forward areas, I'd expect them to hit Jimenez as often as possible (32 long balls, 40 touches for Jimenez vs Vancouver Whitecaps), and then he will try to bring Pozuelo and Jayden Nelson into play.

Figure 1 shows the number of big chances created by TFC this season.



Figure 2 shows Jesus Jimenez's attacking stats so far this season.


Team news


Toronto have a number of injury concerns heading into this game, with Jonathan Osorio chief among them. Coach Bradley's latest comments suggest he could be fit, with his injury not being as bad as first feared. Still, it's touch and go for the Canadian international. They are, however, set to be without Carlos Salcedo, Chris Mavinga, Ifunanyachi Achara, Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty and Noble Okello. Jacob Shaffelburg is listed as questionable.


Orlando City, on the other hand, continue to be without Antonio Carlos, whilst Tesho Akindele and Silvester Van Der Water remain doubts.


Edit 5/14: Tesho Akindele is now available and Benji Michel is listed as questionable with a right lower leg injury.


This section will be updated as and when new information becomes available.

Possible starting XI


Toronto have injury concerns over Jonathan Osorio for this game, though it seems possible he could play. Either way, Bradley prefers a 4-3-3 with his son, Michael, sitting at the base of midfield. I think they'll look a little like this:

Top player


Jonathan Osorio

Toronto are currently sweating on the fitness of Jonathan Osorio. Head Coach Bob Bradley doesn't believe the injury is a serious one, but it still caused him to sit out the last 2 games. They are, however, hopeful he will be fit to face Orlando.


The Canadian international continues to underline his importance to Toronto this season. The playmaker has 2 goals and 3 assists so far, having featured in 9 games for TFC. A proven performer, at this level, he's capable of scoring on his day, though he hasn't yet hit the heights of his 2018 form when he scored 10 and assisted 6. He more than played his part in Canada's famous World Cup qualification campaign, scoring 1 and creating another in 11 games.


He's a player that's capable of picking the ball up in deep lying positions and driving it forward; he's completed 19 (61%) dribbles this season and created 6 big chances. He's putting up decent numbers in an underperforming side. Shutting him down will be the key to victory on Saturday, assuming he plays of course.

Form


Toronto have struggled so far this season, and currently lie 12th in the east with a 3-2-6 record having just lost 4 in a row (MLS).


Orlando, on the other hand, are currently 4th with a 5-2-4 record. Last weekend's hammering in Montréal has been offset, at least somewhat, by the cup win over the Union.

*All statistics courtesy of fotmob.com

Cover image courtesy of Orlando City SC.

Media availability and b-roll footage courtesy of Orlando City SC.

Line-up graphic courtesy of chosen11.com