Toronto FC (5W-12D-4L) will host Charlotte FC (8W-11D-2L), the latest Major League Soccer expansion club, for the first-ever meeting between the two sides this evening at BMO Field.
Tonight will be an exciting and memorable night for the Reds, as they will have forwards Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi make their highly-anticipated TFC debuts at BMO Field.
Toronto enters tonight's match on a rough note, as they lost their previous outing to CF Montreal 1-0 last weekend. It was a tough match for TFC; with a depleted backline and lack of offensive creativity, Toronto was left lifeless in the end.
Goalkeeper Alex Bono made five key saves that kept Toronto in the game, and Montreal could've won the match by three or four more goals if it wasn't for the excellent performance. The goalkeeper was also recently named to the MLS Team of the Week for his good showing in Montreal.
Right now, Toronto is running a thin backline, which has shown many issues throughout the season. TFC will need to acquire reinforcements to help solidify the weak spots and inconsistencies they currently struggle with, which ultimately has cost them games and important points this year. The good news is that on Friday, the Reds made an important decision and signed a defender.
TFC brought home Canadian international defender Doneil Henry for the remainder of the 2022 MLS season. Doneil, 29, joins Toronto after a six-month stint with LAFC, playing six matches. Doneil started his career with the Reds in the Academy and was the first homegrown player to sign with the first team in the MLS in 2010. Overall, bringing him back to Toronto is a good move for both parties and provides TFC with some depth when they need it the most.
The Reds have one point in their previous five games and are on a two-match losing streak. Toronto has not scored in their last two matches and has also failed to keep the ball out of their net for six consecutive games.
But tonight, Toronto FC will be seeking a victory with the help of Italian newcomers Insigne and Bernardeschi, along with left-back Domenico Criscito, who has already made a positive impact in the position following three matches with the club.
Additionally, newly acquired midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye has already played two matches with the Reds and is also expected to be in the lineup tonight.
The Reds still have a lot of work to do in order to climb the table and secure an MLS Cup playoff position. Toronto is eight points behind FC Cincinnati, who holds the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. And with 13 games remaining in the regular season, it's all about winning and securing as many points for Toronto now that the 2022 campaign is well into the second half.
At the other end of the pitch, Charlotte comes to BMO Field in decent form, with two MLS wins and three defeats over their last five matches. They most recently played Inter Miami and lost 3-2 after blowing a two-goal lead. Charlotte sits eighth in the MLS Eastern Conference with 26 points and is just one point behind Cincinnati for the final playoff spot.
It's a match that Charlotte will want to win as they're also pushing towards making the playoffs, but much like TFC, their record on the road has been abysmal this season, with just one win, two draws and eight losses in 11 matches. Saturday could be another tough night away from home for Charlotte, who've scored only ten goals and conceded 20 on the road this year.
It's a new era for Toronto FC, and the question now is, can the season be saved with the new stars and talent they've acquired? Do they have what it takes to bring Toronto to a playoff spot this year? Now is the time for them to shine!
During Friday's pre-match press conference, head coach Bob Bradley informed the media that midfielder Jonathan Osorio, who missed last week's game against CF Montreal, is now out of concussion protocol and is available for Saturday.
Additionally, goalkeeper Quentin Westberg, defender Chris Mavinga, and midfielder Noble Okello are out of the game as they recover from lower-body injuries.
How to watch?
You can watch tonight's action at 7:30 p.m. ET on TSN or stream at TSN Direct. Follow along on Twitter @DaleTorontoReds for live match updates, and look out for the match recap at TorontoReds.com following the game.
What are your score predictions for the match? I say Toronto wins 2-1. Sound off in the comments section below!