When: Sunday April 24th, 4pm ET kickoff
Where: Ontario Soccer Centre (that’s not a typo, it’s Canadian for Center), Vaughan, Ontario, Canada
FC Cincinnati will try to bounce back from Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Louisville City FC when they travel north of the border to take on Toronto FC II.
Opponent: Toronto FC II (TFC II)
Toronto FC II have a 1-0-2 record and currently sit 9th of 14 teams in USL’s Eastern conference on 5 points. FC Cincinnati are 2 places above them in 7th but have played 4 matches to TFC II’s 3.
TFC II entered the league in 2015 and faced a bit of a rude awakening. They finished 11th of 12 teams in the East, well out of the playoffs. They won 6 of 28 games, allowing 52 goals (4th worst in USL) while scoring only 26.
Their 2016 campaign has gotten off to a much better start. They drew 2-2 away to an impressive Red Bull II side and defeated FC Montreal 2-1 in Montreal. Last week they were beating Pittsburgh 2-1 but the Riverhounds equalized late for a share of the points.
TFC II play in Vaughan, Ontario, which is about 25 miles north of downtown Toronto. They play at the Ontario Soccer Complex which sold-out last week with a total of 1,200 fans. Needless to say, the game day atmosphere will be a little different than what FC Cincinnati experienced at Nippert last weekend. TFC II has a small but committed supporters group that will make a good showing and plenty of noise.
Whenever facing any MLS II team, there is always the question of how many loan downs from the parent MLS club FC Cincinnati will face. Toronto’s MLS side play on Saturday in Montreal and players not used in that game could theoretically make it to Vaughan for Sunday’s match. Four TFC MLS players featured for TFC II in last week’s match against Pittsburgh.
Twenty year old striker and Toronto native Raheem Edwards has three goals and one assist in three games including this screamer against FC Montreal.
He’s tied for 3rd in goals in the USL and he’s played one less game than most of his competition. He’s the standout in a fast and athletic front three that will certainly test FC Cincinnati’s back line.
Brian James is a new addition to the Toronto outfit and was drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 MLS superdraft. James, a Florida native and former University of Virginia player, spent time with the first team in preseason and impressed enough to earn a TFC II contract. He’s a box-to-box midfielder and plays the #8 in their 4-3-3 formation.
Cincinnati native and Xavier product Nick Hagglund was drafted 10th overall by TFC MLS in 2014. He’s made over 40 appearances for Toronto’s MLS club but recently has been loaned to TFC II. He’s a complete center back and scored one of TFC II’s two goals against Pittsburgh last week. There is a chance he may be with the first team this weekend and not appear for TFC II.
What to expect from FC Cincinnati
FC Cincinnati could not recover from Chandler Hoffman’s first-half hat-trick last Saturday, so Harkes and team will be looking to make amends. They certainly don’t want to lose two in a row and venture into the bottom half of the USL’s Eastern Conference standings.
It will be interesting to see if Harkes feels that any changes are warranted to the teams’ starting eleven. Based on his comments at the press conference and his team selection so far, I think he still believes the lineup he’s started for four consecutive matches is his best eleven. If things don’t start well in Toronto, he may be quicker to make adjustments and introduce some different players into the mix.
Toronto FC II will provide a genuine test to FC Cincinnati’s back line. They have scored 2 goals in each of their first 3 games. They feature a dynamic front three and two big center backs, Hagglund and Thomas, who both have scored this season. Defensive solidity is about teamwork and support, but FC Cincinnati right back Pat McMahon is certainly going to have to be on his game to contain Raheem Edwards on Sunday.
Toronto FC II does have weaknesses. One weakness is that they’ve had a nasty habit of letting teams back into the game after taking a lead, giving up some costly late goals (sound familiar?). TFC II could be undefeated if they hadn’t let in late goals against Red Bull II and Pittsburgh. They also have looked soft defensively in the center of midfield, especially when the front three are off trying to score goals. Pittsburgh created both of their goals last weekend by combining 1-2 passing with dribble runs right through the center of midfield. Good combination play through the middle between Corben Bone and FC Cincinnati’s front three might just unlock this defense.
FC Cincinnati forward Andrew Wiedeman made 36 appearances for TFC MLS between 2012 and 2014 and will be looking make a good showing on Sunday against his old club. Hopefully we’ll see a little of this, but for FC Cincinnati.
What would be a good result?
A draw would be a good result. Don’t be fooled by last season’s record. TFC II is a talented team with the ability to score goals. It will take a high level FC Cincinnati performance to beat them in Canada. We will keep you posted through social media on which TFC MLS players we expect to see on match day. Check in with Cincinnati Soccer Talk tomorrow for Brad Weigel’s feature on Cincinnati native Nick Hagglund. Remember, if things don’t go our way on Sunday afternoon, blame Canada.
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