MLS: Charlotte FC, Toronto FC meet amid playoff-chase traffic jam

Two sides battling to get into the playoff mix collide when Toronto FC visit Charlotte FC on Saturday.

Charlotte (10-15-2, 32 points) sits in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, one spot ahead of Toronto (8-13-6, 30 points). The clubs are three and five points, respectively, below the playoff line and in the thick of a battle where nine teams are separated by six points for three playoff spots.

Charlotte FC are 1-3-0 in their past four games after falling 2-1 to Orlando City SC last week.

“Directly after the game, everyone was angry and everyone was disappointed because we knew that this game was so important for us,” Charlotte FC midfielder Kamil Jozwiak said. “We know our situation. Not many games to the end. We have to start to win games. Especially the next two games will be so important for us.”

Charlotte FC forward Andre Shinyashiki has five goals in 14 games with Charlotte but has gone seven MLS games without one, last finding the back of the net on July 9.

Winger McKinze Gaines is expected to miss the game with a high ankle sprain.

Toronto FC will look to get back on track after their five-game unbeaten run came to an end last week with a 2-1 loss to Inter Miami. The Reds were 3-0-2 prior to the defeat in a stretch that began with their 4-0 home win against Charlotte on July 23.

“The fact that we only took one (point) in the last two now makes that margin (for error) smaller,” Toronto FC coach Bob Bradley said. “We still look at everything in the same way and we certainly understand that every game the points become bigger.”

Toronto’s attack has gotten a jolt from the additions of Federico Bernardeschi and Lorenzo Insigne, each of whom made their debut the last time out against Charlotte.

Bernardeschi has four goals in six games, ranking third on the team. Insigne is right behind him with three goals.

Toronto striker Jesus Jimenez has eight goals, but has hit a dry spell with no goals or assists in his past nine MLS games and 10 games overall.

–Field Level Media

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