TFC Republic Weekly: May 3-May 9 lookahead
It's a busy week for Toronto FC, as they travel to Mexico for Concacaf Champions League duty, and then hit the road in MLS.
Welcome to the latest edition of TFC Republic Weekly, a free email newsletter that will land in the inbox of both paid subscribers and free members of TFC Republic every Monday.
This newsletter will look at what's in store over the next seven days for Toronto FC, and set up their schedule of games for the week.
You'll also get a glimpse of what to expect at TFC Republic in the coming days.
So, without further ado...
TFC vs. Cruz Azul on Tuesday
Toronto resumes its Concacaf Champions League campaign when it travels to Mexico to take on Cruz Azul in the second leg of their quarter-final at Estadio Azteca on Tuesday (10:15 p.m. ET).
Cruz Azul earned a 3-1 win in Tampa in last week's opening leg, which means TFC has it all to do in this return match. Anything less than a three-goal win would see Toronto bow out of the competition. Cruz Azul only needs a draw to win the aggregate series (in fact, a 2-0 loss would also be good enough for the Mexicans to move on to the semifinals).
Toronto has an all-time record of five wins, seven losses, and five draws vs. Mexican opponents in the Concacaf Champions League, and has won three of its five two-legged knockout series against Liga MX clubs.
Whichever team moves on will meet the winner of the Columbus Crew-CF Monterrey series in the semifinals. Columbus and Monterrey battled to a 2-2 draw in last week's first leg in Ohio.
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TFC vs. New York Red Bulls on Saturday
After having this past weekend off in MLS, Toronto returns to league action on Saturday with an away game against the New York Red Bulls.
New York lost its first two games of the MLS campaign, but it came out of its mini-slump on Saturday with a 2-0 home win over the Chicago Fire. Caden Clark, a 17-year-old prospect, and Venezuelan midfielder Cristian Cásseres Jr. each have two goals for the Red Bulls this season.
New York took the MLS season series over Toronto with a win and a draw. They faced off on the last day of the regular season at Red Bull Arena, with New York earning a 2-1 win. Tsubasa Endoh scored in a losing cause for TFC.
A debut for Soteldo? Pozuelo's return?
Yeferson Soteldo landed in Florida last week to join up with TFC. After last week's loss to Cruz Azul, coach Chris Armas hinted he could be available for the second leg in Mexico.
“We’re still working through when he can participate. There’s a chance it’s (against) Cruz Azul, and that could give us a nice lift. But we’re not sure with the logistical hurdles that we have to get through before he can join us,” Armas said.
TFC playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo has missed all five games this season as he's dealing with a thigh injury. Armas said last week that the Spaniard was getting close to coming back, but it's more likely he returns against New York on the weekend, rather than vs. Cruz Azul.
Fraser's loan to Columbus
Last Friday, I reported that Toronto FC has loaned out Canadian midfielder Liam Fraser to the Columbus Crew for the remainder of the MLS season. As part of the loan agreement, Fraser won’t be allowed to play against Toronto when the two clubs face off on May 12 and 29.
A league source confirmed the deal to TFC Republic, although neither Toronto nor the Crew have made an announcement. But you can expect it to be made official sometime this week.
Fraser, a 23-year-old native of Toronto, has one assist in 34 MLS regular season and playoff games since debuting for the Reds in 2018. An ankle injury has limited him to two substitute appearances in five games in all competitions thus far in 2021.
The defensive midfielder, who has four caps for Canada, has fallen behind fellow Canadian youngsters Ralph Priso and Noble Okello in TFC’s midfield depth chart this year, so this is a good chance for him to get some valuable playing time with the reigning MLS champions. If he does well, it could boost his status with TFC upon his return to the club at the end of the campaign.
Stories to look out for at TFC Republic
With Toronto FC set to travel to face the New York Red Bulls this weekend, my mind turned back to a regular-season meeting between the sides on Oct. 14, 2015.
For those of who might have forgotten, Toronto earned a 2-1 home win on that night to clinch its first-ever playoff berth. But the game will also be remembered for one of the best goals ever scored at BMO Field, courtesy of Sebastian Giovinco.
I recently spoke to Nigel Reed, who did the play-by-play commentary for that game on TSN, about his memories of that night, and I'll have an in-depth feature later this week on Giovinco's incredible goal.
Other stories that will be published later this week include:
- My column on how Liam Fraser can make a strong case for himself with his season-long loan to the Columbus Crew.
- My column on the burning questions facing TFC at the moment.
- In-depth pre- and post-game coverage of Toronto's matches against Cruz Azul in the second leg of their quarter-final tie in the Concacaf Champions League, and against the New York Red Bulls.
TFC Republic mailbag
TFC Republic will feature a regular reader mailbag column where I answer questions from subscribers about Toronto FC and Canadian soccer in general.
I'll answer the best questions submitted to me by TFC Republic readers, so feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach out to me via Twitter and Facebook.
The first edition of the mailbag was published over the weekend.
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(Top photo courtesy of torontofc.ca)
The TFC Republic newsletter comes out every Monday, and will be emailed to both paid and free members. All other content at TFC Republic is behind the paywall, and you'll need to be a subscriber to access it. It costs only $8 for a one-month subscription, or $50 for a full year (prices include 13% GST/HST). What a great deal, eh? Don't miss out, and order your TFC Republic subscription today!