The short-handed Union will face the walking wounded from Toronto under the lights on Friday in Chester.
Fresh off of a busy week that saw a nine-man Union fight bravely but go down to Sorin Stoica and Atlanta United 3-1, and then saw a young Union side paste the Richmond Kickers 5-0 in Open Cup play, the Union (5-3-6, 18 pts, 7th in East) now get back into league play against Toronto (3-2-7, 11 points, 10th in East), a team wildly talented but widely unhealthy right now.
First, the Union. After a weird sequence in Atlanta that saw Alejandro Bedoya (who received an early yellow) “fix his sock” with a foot in the penalty area in a crafty veteran move to help ice the PK taker (for which he received an unheard-of second yellow and was sent off just twenty minutes in), and then saw Haris Medunjanin lose his freakin’ mind and get two yellows from Sorica in a matter of seconds for dissent and saw him get sent off, the Union played match with nine in Atlanta. Moreover, Bedoya and Medunjanin would not be eligible for selection for the Toronto match as they’d both been sent off. Expect to see a Derrick Jones/Warren Creavalle tandem on Friday. It’ll work a little differently as Creavalle isn’t nearly as cultured as Medunjanin in terms of going forward, but is a much better shield for the back line. Also missing for the Union is Richie Marquez, who continues to recover after sports hernia surgery, and Josh Yaro with a concussion.
Meanwhile, Toronto is coming off of a wild 3-3 draw in Columbus. Their injury report is still crazy: Jozy Altidore, Drew Moor, Ager Aketxe, Chris Mavinga all out, Ashtone Morgan is doubtful, and Justin Morrow is questionable. If the Union were at full power, this would be a match you’d hope they’d impose their will on a weakened team and take all the points. A couple things stand in their way, though; the Union are not at full power, and Sebastian Giovinco and Michael Bradley still wears red. And although Bradley is not the great player he once was, he’s still very capable of making things thorny for the Union in the back while Giovinco does his goal-scoring, free-kick-taking thing up front. The U will have to overcome this and more if they are to take a result away from this match.
This will be the second and final meeting between the two Eastern Conference foes this year. Toronto defeated the Union 3-0 in Canada on May 4th.
The Atlanta match showed a resilient Union side who played well together under impossible circumstances. Does that carry over into the Toronto match with eleven on the pitch? If it does, you may get the three points you seek.
Union 2 – Toronto FC 1