Painting the picture against Toronto FC

The Reds host the Bleu-blanc-noir this Saturday

After winning it all in 2017 and coming one penalty short – missed by Michael Bradley – of winning the Concacaf Champions League, the time TFC had to save its season is starting to quickly run out. One point away from the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, Toronto is also nine points behind the Bleu-blanc-noir and an MLS Cup playoff spot, with two games in hand.

A few key players will not be at Greg Vanney’s disposal come Saturday. Jozy Altidore was punished by the MLS Disciplinary Committee for his violent conduct on Alexander Callens and will be suspended; Auro Jr. is injured and should miss this one, while Víctor Vázquez didn’t travel with the team to San Jose last weekend, having suffered a shoulder injury during the game against NYCFC. Here are the three keys to the game at BMO Field, Saturday at 8pm (TVA Sports, TSN, 98,5fm, TSN Radio 690).

  1. Keep two eyes on Giovinco

Without his usual partner in crime, the Atomic Ant will have a harder time getting possession of the ball and combining with his teammates. Of course, Altidore is particularly good at winning duels and serving as a target man for his teammates, which ultimately feeds Giovinco. With the American forward on the field, the Italian has scored four goals in seven games in 2018; without him, he’s two times less efficient, having scored four times in 14 games.

  1. Hit them where it hurts

The window of opportunity is open for the Impact at BMO Field. Toronto doesn’t have a gleaming record in The 6, with only four wins in 11 games. Defensively, TFC has only managed two cleans sheets at home in 2018. Their defensive line is often high and vulnerable to counterattacks. Expect an exciting game.

  1. Double the intensity after the first quarter-hour

Recently, we’ve seen the Bleu-blanc-noir come out to flying starts, before going through a more difficult stretch, letting its opponents take initiative instead. If these more difficult moments exist for every team, the Bleu-blanc-noir has had a harder time quickly snapping out of them as of late. The only way to conquer this black hole is to maintain the energy output and regain the upper hand.