Toronto FC vs Houston Dynamo: Can TFC Contain Cubo?
Toronto FC vs Houston Dynamo ~ Friday April 28 ~ 730pm ET ~ BMO Field ~ TSN4
Time for some more Friday Night Lights! Can Toronto FC build upon last week’s strong performance and make some moves up the table? Last week’s comprehensive win over the Chicago Fire was a very welcome change of pace for TFC; not only did they score goals and win the game, they looked confident and together doing it. While it’s a bit worrisome that it has taken this many games for the team to start to gel, it’s better to be a bit shaky now then later on in the season. Friday’s win against the Fire showed how good this team can be when they’ve got space to operate, when Vazquez gets to be creative, and of course when Seba is scoring.
The game against the Dynamo is the first of many that TFC have coming up in the next five weeks; five matches in the next two weeks, ten in total by the first weekend of June (including Voyageurs Cup games) – having a strong homestand to kick off this spate of games is pretty much a necessity to give them momentum. All these games mean squad rotation and the health of the players will play a big role – with injured defenders and keepers slowly working their way back to full fitness, there is hope that these next weeks won’t be as detrimental to the team as it could be. The best news of course is that Drew Moor’s heart ailment looks to be minor:
— Drew Moor (@drewmoor) April 27, 2017
The expectation is that Moor will be back with the team as early as next week (though I doubt before the match against Seattle next week), which is amazing news even though Nick Hagglund, Eriq Zavaleta and Justin Morrow have been doing a pretty solid job, TFC need Moor not just for the upcoming month but for the season. Clint Irwin is also close to returning so we’ll see both he and Alex Bono over this next month (and then according to Vanney, Irwin will return to his No. 1 keeper spot). Regardless having both players, as well as Ashtone Morgan and Jason Hernandez (Chris Mavinga is still a few weeks away), available makes the prospect of handling these next few weeks a little less daunting.
Houston come to town in pretty good form, they’re in third place in the west and undefeated (including four wins) at home so far this season. This is a far cry from their last couple of seasons as one of the league’s bottom dwellers – Wilmer Cabrera has made the team over and has his star player Cubo Torres back in top form. Torres last saw MLS success when playing under Cabrera at Chivas USA, but had struggled the past couple of years. But now that he’s back with Cabrera he seems close to unstoppable, having scored seven goals in seven games (from nine shots on goal…) – although three of those goals were penalty kicks, the strike rate cannot be ignored.
The good news is that the Dynamo have not been great away from home, in fact they’ve lost both road games (including one to the woeful Union) they’ve played – huzzah! They’re also not the best defensive team and as Toronto seem to have found their scoring boots – double huzzah! If TFC play like they did last Friday then expect a lot of goals, a lot of attacking (and counter-attacking) from both teams and an exciting game all around.
After the success of last week I can’t see Vanney changing the starting lineup – Marky Delgado fit in rather well with the rest of the team and was a catalyst for many plays. If he and Victor Vazquez can hone their communication then it could make for a potent duo setting up the strikers. The only thing I might expect would be to see Armando Cooper in as a sub before Jonathan Osorio (sorry Oso), in order to counter some of Cabrera’s style of play. The key for the this game is containing Cubo, along with Albreth Elis and Romell Quioto to a lesser degree, and not losing concentration on defense and in transition. If they let Vazquez create (and trust him, maybe let him take some free kicks), and Seba and Jozy have space then there should be no reason for TFC not to win. My podcast prediction was 2-1 for Toronto.