Philadelphia Union vs Toronto FC preview: Union host the Reds in home opener
Philadelphia Union welcome Toronto FC to Talen Energy Stadium for home opener

Philadelphia Union vs Toronto FC preview: Union host the Reds in home opener

A preview of Saturday afternoon's Major League Soccer match between Philadelphia Union and Toronto FC.

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The Philadelphia Union welcome Toronto FC to Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania for the Union's 2017 Major League Soccer home opener. 

Recent History and All-time record

The Union and Toronto met most recently in the Eastern Conference Knockout round of the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs, with Toronto coming away with a 3-1 victory at BMO Field in a run that would see them make it all the way to the MLS Cup Final.  

Historically, it's honors even between Philadelphia and Toronto with the Union holding a 6-6-5 all-time regular season record against "The Reds." However, the Union failed to record a win against Toronto last season having fallen 3-1 to the MLS Cup runners-up at Talen Energy Stadium back in August of last season thanks to goals from Sebastian GiovincoDrew Moor, and Jozy Altidore, as well as a consolation goal from Philadelphia's Ken Tribbett. They did manage a 1-1 draw in Toronto in September as part of their winless run to finish out the season with goals from Alejandro Bedoya and Justin Morrow.  

Notable exclusions

Toronto remains without Homegrown defender, Ashtone Morgan who suffered a stress fracture in his foot during pre-season, while wingback Steven Beitashour is likely to miss out due to concussion symptoms and missed practice on Wednesday as a result. 

Philadelphia meanwhile remains without long-term absentees, center back, Joshua Yaro who is slated to miss up to four months while recovering from shoulder surgery and Maurice Edu who is also a doubt as he recovers from a broken left fibula suffered back in October. Defensive midfielder, Warren Creavalle also missed a chunk of the preseason with an injury but made the bench for Philadelphia's opening match against the Vancouver Whitecaps and has been declared fit for Saturday's match following comment's from manager Jim Curtin in his weekly press conference. Ilsinho returned to training on Thursday following a hamstring strain that saw him miss the Vancouver match but is not likely to feature against Toronto. 

Predicted Lineups

Possible lineup when the Union take the field against Toronto
Possible lineup when the Union take the field against Toronto

Philadelphia: The Union will line up in their typical 4-2-3-1 formation with overlapping fullbacks and a central midfield pairing of a holding midfielder and a box to box midfielder. Jay Simpson is likely to have his work cut out for him as the lone forward versus a Toronto back three. Expect the following players to start on Saturday: Andre Blake, Keegan Rosenberry, Oguchi Onyewu, Richie Marquez, Fabinho, Derrick Jones, Haris MedunjaninFabian Herbers, Alejandro Bedoya, Chris Pontius, and Jay Simpson.

Despite the supposed return to fitness of Warren Creavalle, expect Derrick Jones to retain his place in central midfield on Saturday following last week's performance in which Union manager, Jim Curtin stated, "My opinion may be biased, but I thought he was the best player on the field for either team." 

Union manager Jim Curtin (left) was very pleased with homegrown midfielder, Derrick Jones' debut performance.
 Jim Curtin (left) was very pleased with homegrown midfielder, Derrick Jones' debut performance.
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Onyewu continues in place of the injured Joshua Yaro, having made his MLS debut in the Union's match against Vancouver. "Gooch" earned plaudits for his performance and the hearts of some Union fans following his no nonsense "manhandling" of Vancouver's Alphonso Davies on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Fabian Herbers is expected to retain his place at right midfield following news that Ilsinho had just returned to training on Thursday. The German-born midfielder playing style contrasts significantly with the less direct Ilsinho but the 23-year-old put in a good shift on Sunday despite the affair being goalless.

Jay Simpson, who worked tirelessly as the lone forward on Sunday is also likely to retain his starting spot despite being replaced by C.J. Sapong late in the second half versus Vancouver.

As for Toronto, since switching to a 3-5-2 last season, the Canadians have been rampant both defensively and offensively but they'll be missing one of their key performers in the form of right wingback, Steven Beitashour. Expect Marky Delgado, who played primarily as the right sided player in their diamond midfield prior to the formation switch to fill in. New signing, Víctor Vázquez who came off the bench for Jonathan Osorio against Real Salt Lake may also get the start ahead of Osorio.

Possible lineup when the Reds take the field against the Union
Possible lineup when the Reds take the field against the Union

Toronto's line-up should look something like this: Clint Irwin, Nick Hagglund, Drew Moor, Eriq Zavaleta, Marky Delgado, Armando Cooper, Michael Bradley, Victor Vasquez, Justin Morrow, Jozy Altidore, and Sebastian Giovinco. 

Predicted Score

Philadelphia 1 Toronto 1

Toronto's offense sputtered against Real Salt Lake but they've proven time and again that they're more than capable of banging in the goals. However, Philadelphia has shown they're becoming more adept at weathering the early storm defensively and pressed Vancouver well in their opening match. Expect the Union to try and exploit Marky Delgado at right wing back. He's played out wide and even in defense before but his more natural position is in central midfield and he'll be asked to do a lot in that two-way position. Despite the potential areas of exploitation for Philadelphia, Toronto may still dominate proceeding with their sheer quality on the ball.

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