Jonathan Osorio vs. Orlando

Three Storylines: Midfield Changes?

Toronto FC struggled in New Jersey last weekend. The 3-0 scoreline is a clear indicator of that.

Sebastian Giovinco and company will have a chance to get back on track this Saturday at home against Orlando City SC, a team they defeated 4-1 just over two weeks ago.

Giovinco broke the club record for goals in a season that night and will be looking for more this go around.

"I scored a hat trick last time against Orlando,” he said, via a translator, on Tuesday. “I'm looking forward to playing them again."

How the Reds can stop leaking goals will be the most important question going forward. Josh Williams is part of the solution, though praising a defender’s play in a 3-0 defeat does seem strange.

The praise is warranted. Williams’ first important tackle of the match, one that denied an excellent scoring opportunity for Bradley Wright-Phillips, was a sign of things to come.

“I thought Josh had a very good performance, especially having not played a match in a few months” said Greg Vanney.

"Personally I felt good,” added Williams. “It's been two to three years since I played at CB. I feel it's my best position."

"I'm expecting to be back at CB against Orlando."

With Damien Perquis (quadriceps) doubtful to play this week, Williams’ expectation will most likely come to fruition.

Who starts beside Williams in the middle of Toronto’s defence isn’t certain. Ahmed Kantari has played a lot of football for the Reds since joining the team at the end of July. Eriq Zavaleta could make his first start since the match in Columbus in order to give Kantari some rest.

More From The Midfield

The backline and goalkeeper Joe Bendik came under fire once again after allowing three goals in New Jersey. The Reds conceded three or more goals in their fifth consecutive road match. While the defenders need to be better, Vanney believes they need more support from the midfielders in front of them.

“We need to be more difficult to play against in the midfield,” said Vanney.

Jesse Marsch’s midfielders were gifted balls through turnovers in the middle of the park on numerous occasions. From there, the RBNY attack was given ample opportunity to expose TFC’s defence.

"It's not only on the defenders,” acknowledged Giovinco. “The whole team needs to work together."

“We did not dictate the game at all defensively," Vanney continued. "When that happens you end up winning balls too deep in your half.”

Turnovers are bound to happen when you’re repeatedly required to march 70 to 80 yards up field.

We’ve seen TFC employ a flat four in the midfield at times this season, in Orlando and Philadelphia back during the seven game road trip to start the season. There was the 3-5-2 employed against the Crew in Columbus. But for the most part, Vanney has relied on the 4-1-2-1-2 with a midfield diamond. After the Red Bulls thrived on the wings, exploiting the Reds lack of width, there have been requests to shake it up by fans and pundits alike.

“We’ll assess all of these things,” Vanney stated. “We’ve had great moments in the diamond and we’ve had not so great moments in the diamond.”

What’s Different From Last Time

Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley did not play the last time these teams met. Marky Delgado started at the top of the diamond and Robbie Findley slotted in beside Giovinco.

Darwin Ceren and Tyler Turner, two starters in that game for Orlando at BMO Field, will not be available on Saturday due to suspension.

Jackson, who also started on Aug. 5 continues to recover from a hamstring injury he suffered last week during training. 

And of course the biggest difference this time will be the presence of Kaka. Adrian Heath’s side is missing a number of starters due to injuries and suspension. Orlando appears to have hit the expansion club wall after their 4-0 loss in Seattle. But, with a player like Kaka in the mix anything can happen. Don’t sleep on the Lions.

News and Notes

Chris Konopka and Nick Hagglund have been loaned to Toronto FC II for the USL side's match Wednesday night....The two players could be recalled for Saturday....Luke Moore could return to the 18 this weekend after recovering from an ankle sprain.