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Behind Enemy Lines: Scouting Toronto FC

Toronto returns home for the first time this season.

MLS: Toronto FC at Montreal Impact Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas travels to Toronto to end the nightmare road trip in which they have failed to score and conceded seven goals in two weeks. Toronto FC returns home after losing to Portland 2-1 on the final game of their eight game road trip.

Coming Home

This week versus FC Dallas is Toronto’s home opener. Due to construction on BMO Field, Toronto has started the season with eight straight road games. During that stretch, the Reds were an impressive 3-3-2 away from home. That is good enough to keep them in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference where they are currently three points back of rivals Montreal for the top spot in the conference.

Potential Lineup

Toronto is missing Jonathan Osorio, Clement Simonin, and Benoit Cheyrou this week. Toronto tend to line up in a 4-4-2 with a diamond mid-field.

GK: Clint Irwin; LB: Justin Morrow; CB: Drew Moor, Damien Perquis; RB: Steven Beitashour; CDM: Michael Bradley; CM: Will Johnson, Marco Delgado; CAM: Tsubasa Endoh; FW: Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore.

Key Matchup

Sebastian Giovinco vs. Victor Ulloa: Giovinco is the best player in the league and considering FCD's current form, it is frightening to think that this patchwork defense will have to contain the Atomic Ant. That said if they have any chance in this game Ulloa will need to reign in Giovinco. Cut down his options, don’t give him a lot of time on the ball, tactical fouls, all of these things will be crucial if Dallas wants to stop conceding at an impressive rate.

Keys to Three Points

SET PIECES. Every week I mention how bad Dallas is at set-pieces, but it is a serious problem and the likes of Altidore, Bradley, and Giovinco could really punish Dallas from dead balls this weekend. If Dallas can’t stop conceding from set pieces, than my recommendation this week is never concede a corner or free kick. Good luck Hoops.

Finding an Offensive Spark. Dallas has been shutout in two straight games and the offense has looked non-existent throughout much of that time. Somebody needs to find some form up top. My personal expectation is that Mauro Diaz can have a good week coming off injury and having had time to play and recover. Regardless, if Dallas can’t find an outlet than this game will be a blowout too.

Being Clinical. This is sort of in the same vein as finding an offensive spark, but Dallas has had numerous opportunities to score in the last two weeks and has failed to do so. So many great chances have been wasted or saved by quality goal-keeping, but Dallas needs to finish these chances if it wants to succeed, they cannot keep missing from six-twelve yards out.

Prediction

Toronto will be excited for their home opener and Dallas will come out ready to put the bad behind them. I expect a wild game as both teams begin a scoring competition.

My Prediction: 3-3 Draw