Houston Dynamo at Toronto FC
Friday, April 28, 2017, 6:30 p.m. CT
BMO Field, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
After an uneven start to the season, Toronto FC showed their true colors last Friday night, dismantling the Chicago Fire, 3-1, at BMO Field. On Friday, they’ll look to make it two straight solid performances against a Houston Dynamo team that’s impressed at home but is still looking for its first road point of 2017.
Sebastian Giovinco finally started firing last week, bagging a pair of goals to lead Toronto to their victory over the previously hard-charging Fire. He wasn’t the only Red who played well against Chicago, however. Michael Bradley turned in a solid shift, as did defender Eriq Zavaleta and midfielder Victor Vazquez.
Like Chicago last week, Houston are riding some momentum heading into Friday’s match. The Dynamo dispatched San Jose 2-0 on Saturday, getting goals from Alberth Elis and Cubo Torres – who leads MLS with seven on the year – to improve to 4-2-1 and move into third in the West. That’s an impressive start, but Houston have picked up all 13 of their points at home, posting an 0-2-0 road mark thus far. We’ll see if they can emerge with a result from BMO Field on Friday.
Giovinco is back – with a vengeance.
Toronto FC’s superstar ended all talk of his slow start to the season Friday night, when he scored a pair of goals – and nearly added a couple more – to lead TFC to their win over Chicago and to take home Alcatel MLS Player of the Week honors. It was a vintage performance from the 2015 MLS MVP, who had just one goal and zero assists in five games heading into Friday’s match.
“His ability in and around the goal, to shoot, to put defenders on the wrong foot, to finish off plays, is at a very high level,” Bradley said after the match. “We were all happy that he could get two good goals tonight and play a big part in a great win.”
Of course, it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns for the Atomic Ant. He was not thrilled to be taken off in the 85th minute while working on his hat trick, storming past head coach Greg Vanney and straight down the tunnel in protest after being subbed out.
“Seba wants to score goals, the game was opening up, there might have been another opportunity or two at the end,” Vanney said. “He's passionate. He was not happy that he was coming off.”
An upset and motivated Giovinco isn’t exactly the worst thing for TFC, who will be hoping for another standout performance from their star attacker as they look to continue clicking against Houston.
- Suspended: NONE
- Int’l Duty: NONE
- Injury Report: OUT – GK Clint Irwin (hamstring strain), D Drew Moor (cardiac arrythymia), D Ashtone Morgan (stress fracture in foot)
Projected Starting XI (3-5-2): Alex Bono – Eriq Zavaleta, Nick Hagglund, Justin Morrow – Steven Beitashour, Victor Vazquez, Michael Bradley, Marky Delgado, Raheem Edwards – Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore
Notes: Toronto have only beaten Houston once in the last 11 regular season meetings between the two sides dating back to July 2011 (1-4-6) … TFC have only lost twice in their last 18 regular season home games (8-2-8).
After a loss at New England and a home draw against Minnesota, Houston got back to their winning ways with a 2-0 defeat of San Jose at BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday. The win kept the Dynamo unbeaten in Houston, moving the club to 4-0-1 at home this season.
They’ve been excellent in Texas, but the Dynamo have been far from stellar on the road. Houston have lost both of their road matches in 2017, falling 4-2 at Portland in March before losing 2-0 at the Revs a couple of weeks ago.
They’ve developed a new look since last hitting the road, however, with head coach Wilmer Cabrera temporarily scrapping the 4-3-3 formation the team had used all year to roll out a 4-4-2 at the start of Saturday’s win against the Quakes. The new approach led to the first shutout of the season for the Dynamo’s backline, though Cabrera could easily revert to the 4-3-3 on Friday in an attempt to pack the middle against TFC’s five-man midfield.
- Suspended: NONE
- Int’l Duty: NONE
- Injury Report: OUT – D George Malki (torn ACL); QUESTIONABLE – Agus (left hamstring)
Projected Starting XI (4-3-3): Joe Willis – A.J. DeLaGarza, Adolfo Machado, Leonardo, DaMarcus Beasley – Juan David Cabezas, Eric Alexander, Alex – Alberth Elis, Cubo Torres, Romell Quioto
Notes: Houston’s 2-0 win against San Jose last weekend was their first shutout in their last nine league matches … Eric Alexander’s assist on Alberth Elis’ goal last weekend was his first in 16 appearances with the Dynamo.
- Overall: Toronto 4 wins (22 goals), Houston 6 wins (28 goals), 10 draws
- At Toronto: Toronto 3 wins (13 goals), Houston 3 wins (12 goals), 4 draws
Referee: Mark Geiger
Assistant Referees: CJ Morgante, Joe Fletcher
Fourth Official: Geoff Gamble