PREVIEW – The Philadelphia Union and Toronto FC have the two most points and points per game in MLS. A win or loss, either way, can completely change the status of the league and the Eastern Conference. With the Supporters’ Shield actually being awarded this year, there is a lot on the line for both teams.
The Two Best Teams in MLS: Toronto FC and the Philadelphia Union
Update on the Supporters Shield, I'm hearing the decision to not award has been reversed and it will now be awarded.
— 3rd Degree (@3rdDegreeNet) October 23, 2020
The Recent Results of the Philadelphia Union
Since losing to TFC on October 3, the Union has been on a four-game unbeaten run, winning three of those games. This included Philadelphia’s last game at Gillette Stadium against the New England Revolution.
The Union were heavily outshot by the Revolution, but Union goalkeeper Andre Blake came up with some big saves. He made seven saves, which were all needed in a tight 1-2 win over the Revolution.
— PhilaUnion (@PhilaUnion) October 20, 2020
There were also other players that stepped up. Anthony Fontana scored what ended up being the game-winning goal. He chipped his shot past Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner to give the Union the 0-2 lead at the time. This is what Jim Curtin, head coach of the Philadelphia Union said about Fontana:
“[H]is ability to arrive in the box at the right time and make plays reminds me of a guy who used to play here in Clint Dempsey, where he just had a knack for being in the right place at the right time, those deep runs that are hard to track for center backs,” he said.
That is a big compliment for the 21-year-old Fontana. He is also playing well this year. In fourteen games played, he had six goals. This is good enough to put him second place in team scoring this year.
The Philadelphia Union Could Become the MLS Points Leader
Kacper Przybylko is the Philadelphia Union’s top goal scorer with seven goals for Philadelphia. This is while Brenden Aaronson and Jamiro Monteiro are tied with five assists each for the Union.
They now have a chance to level TFC in points. This would also mean the Philadelphia Union would take over first place in the Eastern Conference.
This is because TFC has a worse goal differential than the Union. The Union has scored the most goals in the Eastern Conference with 34. They are also tied for the second-fewest goals allowed with 17 goals along with Nashville SC and TFC.
Toronto FC and their Recipe for Success in the 2020 MLS Season
TFC is currently on a nine-game unbeaten run. In the 2020 MLS season, TFC has also never lost to an American MLS team. The only notable exception was the MLS is Back Tournament Round of 16 game. This was where TFC lost to New York City FC 3-1.
However, that game did not count towards the MLS regular season. TFC will be an extremely hard team to beat. Against Atlanta United FC, TFC blocked five of Atlanta’s six shots. This showed the greatly improved defence TFC has this year compared to last year.
Nine of TFC’s 11 wins were one-goal games. TFC is not the type of team to dominate another team. However, it does show their ability to get results and close games out.
They are an experienced team that has won many Canadian Championships, and one MLS Cup and Supporters’ Shield in 2017. TFC is also the defending Eastern Conference champions, making the MLS Cup three times in the last four years.
TFC has scored 30 goals in the 2020 MLS season. Alejandro Pozuelo and Ayo Akinola are both tied with eight goals for the team lead. Furthermore, Pozuelo is the current MLS leader in assists with 10. He could be a Most Valuable Player candidate when the MLS season finishes off in November.
Toronto FC and their Form of Play
The TFC is red-hot as they are unbeaten in nine games, which includes seven wins. Most recently, Richie Laryea’s made a good cross-pass to Pablo Piatti in the 89-minute of play. Piatti capitalized on it, as he scored with a fantastic header to beat Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
As a result, both Piatti and Laryea have four goals and assists each. Furthermore, Quentin Westberg made a big save to keep the game even at 0-0 at the time. Greg Vanney head coach of TFC said this about his club after the win against Atlanta:
“I’m not surprised. I have a ton of confidence in this group, just, especially right now there’s just so much resiliency, you feel it every single day,” Vanney said.
When TFC faced Atlanta, these were the players that were injured for Toronto.
OUT: M – Achara (ACL surgery 7/9, out for season)
OUT: D – Justin Morrow*
OUT: F – Jozy Altidore*
OUT: GK – Alex Bono*
OUT: D – Chris Mavinga*
OUT: F – Ayo Akinola*
OUT: D – Eriq Zavaleta*
*not medically cleared
— Michael Singh (@MichaelSingh94) October 18, 2020
However, there are only four injuries listed for TFC right now. Ifunanyachi Achara has been injured since July 2 with a torn knee ligament.
Both Jozy Altidore (hamstring injury) and Justin Morrow (calf strain) were injured in Toronto’s previous encounter against Philadelphia on October 3. Finally, on October 13, Alex Bono is currently injured with a finger injury. There is no timeline yet on when these four players will return.
This might mean Eriq Zavaleta, Chris Mavinga, and Akinola could be returning on Saturday against the Union. Only time will tell.
The Philadelphia Union in comparison only has one injury. Warren Creaville was not medically cleared by the Union in their previous game against the Revolution. However, there is still a chance he could play against TFC on Saturday at Subaru Park.
Overview of Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia Union
This will be a matchup no one will want to miss. TFC had two players that made MLS Players of the Week.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) October 19, 2020
Laryea and Piatti, who scored the game-winning assist and goal against Atlanta were on the list. Also, both Toronto and Philadelphia are looking at the end goal of getting the most points in MLS. Lastly, expect fans to attend the game at Subaru Park in Chester, Pennsylvania.
You heard the Captain, Union fans! We need ya there & LOUD!
— PhilaUnion (@PhilaUnion) October 20, 2020
The game will take place at 7:30 PM eastern time on Saturday. It will be televised in Canada on TSN 1 and 4, it will also be televised on PHL17 in Philadelphia. Lastly, the game will be streamed on MLS Live on ESPN+ in the US.