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Match Preview: Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Toronto FC

Friday night lights—again

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps at Toronto FC Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The Caps’ run of Friday night matches continue tomorrow, as we are treated to an inter-Canadian showdown with Toronto FC. The pertinent details, as always, are below:

Kick off: 10:00 PM ET/7:00 PM PT

TV: TSN 1/4

Streaming: MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US

Officials: Referee: Jair Marrufo

Assistant Referees: Jeff Hosking, Micheal Barwegen

4th Official: Elijio Arreguin

VAR: Jon Freemon

Much like FC Dallas, Toronto FC enters the match on a poor run of form. The Reds are winless in their last five matches, dropping them to eighth spot in the east. Toronto was hot out of the gate, however, winning their first three matches, including a 4-0 drubbing of NYCFC that was boosted by the debut of midfielder creator Alejandro Pozuelo.

Pozuelo, who signed from Gent as a DP, combined with the return of Jozy Altidore from injury was thought to put TFC in the pole position in the east. But Pozuelo has not lived up to his initial hype, bagging just three goals since his monstrous debut, as the league appears to be figuring out how to shut him down.

Equally concerning for TFC is the fact that the lack of offensive production has spread to other members of the squad. In those winless five games, Toronto has scored just two goals and has been shut out three times. Despite this, the team is one of the strongest in goals for, shots for and possession rate in the Eastern Conference, meaning they will likely look to hold onto the ball and play direct—something which could create problems for Vancouver.

Manager Greg Vanney continues to deploy his favored three-at-the-back approach, although he has much different personnel than when the team was playing for the MLS Cup two seasons ago. Opponents have been able to hit back on the counter against Justin Morrow and Auro, something the Caps will look to take advantage of as their counter attacking abilities seem to round into form.

On the injury front for the Caps, there is some good news. Ali Adnan is expected to feature despite leaving the 2-1 win over FC Dallas with an apparent groin injury. Also returning to training is Yordy Reyna and Michael Baldissimo (who I frankly forgot existed, as he’s been injured all of this season). Lass Bangoura and Doneil Henry have commenced light training but aren’t ready to feature, nor is Joaquin Ardaiz, who went down in the 1-1 draw with SKC.

Marc dos Santos has seemed to settle on a 3 center back formation at the moment, at least pending the return of some of the injured first choice players. The tweak has brought success, giving Adnan more space offensively and seeming to help the Caps more quickly regain possession and turn that into counter attacking opportunities. As long as the home side can maintain their defensive organization, they stand to benefit from facing a Toronto FC side that is reeling at the moment, although they will return Pozuelo from a one-match suspension.

I predict a 2-1 win for the Caps