Preview: Toronto FC, San Jose Earthquakes look to make quick statement

Toronto FC

Preview — Toronto FC and the San Jose Earthquakes will both officially open their MLS season this Saturday. They will be playing at Earthquakes Stadium in San Jose, California.

Toronto FC heads into this MLS season as the Eastern Conference champions. Meanwhile, San Jose barely missed the playoffs last year. Since both teams are not in the Concacaf Champions League, this will be their first competitive game this year.

San Jose Earthquakes

The San Jose Earthquakes have won the MLS Cup twice in 2001 and 2003. However, they have struggled to make it to the playoffs in the last decade. They have made the MLS playoffs only three times in the last 10 years. The last time the Earthquakes made the MLS playoffs, they were destroyed 5-0 by the Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

They were close to making this a reality last year, but were four points clear from the final playoff spot. According to Neil Bisman, the Earthquakes are expected to be in a similar position this year. They are tied 14th with the Houston Dynamo in MLS for winning the championship with odds of +2900 to win the MLS Cup.

The San Jose Earthquakes have been quiet in the off-season transactions this year. However, they did acquire Oswaldo Alanis on loan from Club Deportivo Guadalajara.

San Jose Earthquakes Off-Season Transactions

The most notable transaction for the San Jose Earthquakes was getting from loan Mexican Alanis. San Jose Earthquakes head coach Matias Almeyda had high praise for Alanis.

“Oswaldo is a player that can add a lot from the human element as well as in football,” Almeyda said to MLS. “I had the chance to coach him for two and half years and his position is where we have the fewest players. My hope is that he shows the same level he showed when I coached him previously.”

Alanis plays at the centre-back position. He will be relied upon by his defense and goalkeeper to keep goals out of the net. Expect him to have a big game Saturday against Toronto FC.

Toronto FC

The defending Eastern Conference champions won the MLS Cup in 2017. However, since the 2018 Concacaf Champions League, Toronto FC has gone through a cold spell. This spell seemed to have been broken in the latter part of last season.

Toronto finally got the monkey off their back and won their third Eastern Conference championship last year. This year, Toronto is one of a handful of teams that believe they can win the MLS Cup. According to Bisman, Toronto FC are joint favorites along with Atlanta United FC to win the Eastern Conference with +750 odds.

The only team higher is defending Supporters’ Shield holders, Los Angeles FC. This is because of Toronto FC’s recent success and their recent off-season transactions this year.

Toronto FC Off-Season Transactions

Toronto FC’s most notable transaction was signing Michael Bradley to a TAM contract. This allowed Toronto FC to sign a third designated player, which was Argentian Pablo Piatti. Unfortunately, neither Bradley nor Piatti will be suiting up for TFC on Saturday. To learn more about other transactions made by Toronto FC, read this previous article.

Injuries

The Toronto Sun reports that Piatti has a slight strain in the hamstring and will be out for at least two weeks. Later, Greg Vanney updated Piatti’s injury saying that there is no timetable for his return. The club will also be without team captain Michael Bradley after undergoing surgery on Jan. 21.

It has also been revealed that veteran midfielder Nick DeLeon is also injured and will not play against the San Jose Earthquakes. He’s officially listed as questionable with back tightness.

“His back has kind of seized up on him,” Vanney said. “It happened at one point last year towards the end of pre-season, where it just tightened up on him.”

Meanwhile, Jozy Altidore will be Toronto FC’s captain on Saturday, Feb. 29 at Earthquakes Stadium.

“During the pre-season Jozy has been the captain for all the games and I don’t expect that will change between now and opening day,” Vanney told a media conference call Wednesday. “But I will sit down and have my discussion with the guys and with Jozy. As of right now, that’s my plan.”

Toronto FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes Overview

Toronto FC and the Earthquakes will look to make a statement in their first official match on Saturday.

This game will probably end up in a tie. Right now, Toronto FC has lots of injury issues to deal with. However, one cannot discount the partnership of Alejandro Pozuelo and Altidore, who can work some magic to score the game-winning goal.

 

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