The Union will head into Toronto on Wednesday and hope to escape with a result against the Supporters Shield front-runners.
With time running out, the last thing a club struggling to sniff the post-season wants to see is a first-place side on the slate, but that’s what the Union have Wednesday against Toronto. TFC is in a class of their own, sitting on 50 points (best in the league) with a +24 goal differential (best in the league) and a sterling record of nine wins, three draws, and exactly zero losses at home this year. Meanwhile, the Union sit on 30 points in ninth place out of eleven teams in the East, with a +1 goal differential. There is much work to be done.
These two sides met very early this year and fought to a 2-2 draw in Chester on March 11th. The match featured goals from Jay Simpson, Justin Morrow, Jozy Altidore, and C.J. Sapong, and a missed penalty by Alejandro Bedoya that smacked off of the crossbar and stayed out. At the time, a draw against the Eastern Conference champs seemed to offer promise of things to come for the Union despite some wobbly play from normally-amazing Andre Blake. Speaking of Blake, the reigning MLS Keeper of the Year is slated back tomorrow after missing time with a hand injury he suffered during the Gold Cup final. John McCarthy will most likely get a well-deserved rest after deputizing ably in Blake’s stead.
Toronto is stocked with talented players, from US national team members Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore to former MLS MVP Sebastian Giovinco. The U will have to contend with these and more if they are to emerge with at least a point.
This will be the last time these teams meet this year.
Toronto will be well-motivated to play well even against the moribund Union; they are four points up on NYCFC for the Supporters Shield and they are focused on taking all three points from every match. There will be no let-off from them. While TFC chases first place overall, the Union sit six points back from the last playoff spot from Columbus and Montreal for the last playoff spot, with Atlanta (this weekend’s foe) and Orlando City also ahead of them for the last spot.
It’s no secret: with nine matches left and just four of those at home, the Union have to grab results on the road, and one point won’t do. The San Jose match was a perfect opportunity to grab the full three points and boost their chances, but a very Union-y end to the match insured that wouldn’t be the case. Could the boys in blue go into Toronto and get three points? Let’s take a look at the Union on the road in league play so far this year:
Losses: at Orlando, at DC, at Real Salt Lake, at NYCFC, at Montreal, at Columbus, at New England
Draws: at Vancouver, at LA, at Kansas City, at San Jose
Wins: at DC
I’m going to say no.
Toronto FC 3, Union 1