MLS: Improved Toronto FC to face ‘aggressive’ Union


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With both sides struggling to find their form in a tight MLS Eastern Conference, Toronto FC pay a visit to the Philadelphia Union as the sides meet amid a string of lackluster league results.

The worst team in MLS a season ago, Toronto FC has seen its fortunes improve to sixth place in the 15-team conference. They are getting the best run of MLS play from winger Federico Bernardeschi, while they recently welcomed back the often-injured Lorenzo Insigne.

Despite the midfielders playing significant roles, head coach John Herdman’s side lost 4-3 at home against FC Cincinnati, a third defeat in four MLS matches after a run of three straight victories.

Through a year that has included dramatic games and several disciplinary issues, Toronto FC sits with an even goal differential, having conceded 24 goals to their 24 scored in MLS play, led by Bernardeschi’s six tallies.

The team’s ability to defend likely will come to the forefront Wednesday against the Union’s potent attacking duo of Daniel Gazdag and Julian Carranza, who have scored in the same match 16 times.

“When you’re (at Philadelphia), they’re one of the most aggressive teams in MLS,” Herdman said. “They’re going to be on the front foot. They’re going to force you to be direct and be direct themselves in situations and rely on their real quality in Carranza and Gazdag.

“This team is very pragmatic; they can go front to back very quickly and make it a very physical game. We’re getting ready for that and looking forward to it.”

The Union’s best moments of the season have been found on the transaction sheet. The club signed longtime MLS All-Star goalkeeper Andre Blake and signed an American future soccer star, 14-year-old Cavan Sullivan.

Gazdag leads the team in goals with nine.

For a club that finished fourth in the Eastern Conference last season after winning it in 2022, the standards are higher as the Union seek their second win in nine matches. They are coming off a scoreless draw against Charlotte FC.

Rookie Philadelphia goalkeeper Oliver Semmle earned the clean sheet with four saves against Charlotte.

“It’s important for us to not concede and to keep a clean sheet is something to build on,” Union head coach Jim Curtin said. “It doesn’t really mean anything if we don’t follow it up with really good performances at home on Wednesday and Saturday.”

Toronto and Philadelphia last met Aug. 30, 2023, with TFC taking a 3-1 victory.

–Field Level Media


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