Toronto FC II returns to the east coast on Saturday, just over 300 miles from Toronto, to face the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. The Riverhounds are one of the founding teams in the USL and have a long history. This fact alone will be a test for the young TFCII squad who are still doing their best to gel and create their own identity. Of TFCII’s first four matches, they have only faced one team not in the USL prior to this season. In that match the Charleston Battery proved that established teams with experience have a clear advantage over MLS 2 teams.
This will be a strong Eastern Conference test for TFCII but is certainly winnable. After four matches, Pittsburgh sits on five points with a record 1W-1L-2D with this being their fourth match at Highmark Stadium. Last season in 2014, the Riverhounds finished out of a playoff spot in 11th with 32 points and a record of 9W-14L-5D.
Over the past week a couple roster changes were made as expected with a developing squad. On Thursday it was announced that TFCII has acquired American forward Ben Spencer on loan from Molde Fotballklubb of the Norwegian Tippeligaen. Spencer has previously spent time with NASL side Indy Eleven and represented the United States on the U18, U20 and U23 teams.
It was also learned that Jonathan Osorio’s younger brother, forward Anthony Osorio, has been added to the Toronto FC II roster from the TFC Academy.
With the new additions and return of five players from the Canadian National U18 team, expect to see the following projected starting eleven.
Projected Starting XI – Quillan Roberts, Wesley Charpie, Skyler Thomas, Marcus Godinho, Mark Serjeant; Jay Chapman, Marcos Nunes, Christopher Mannella (C), Mark Anthony Kaye; Molham Babouli, Jordan Hamilton
Projected Bench – Alex Bono, Daniel Fabrizi, Nikola Stakic, Luca Uccello, Mateo Restrepo, Anthony Osorio, Ben Spencer
It should be noted that the junior Reds have yet to earn a result south of the border. This could very well be their first. With the exception of their match in Harrisburg, New Jersey the Toronto FC II could have come away with three wins at this point. In the opener, they dropped all three points in Charleston after being up 2-0 early and last week in Vancouver they had failed to capitalize on some very close chances to secure a victory. Will those lessons learned come to fruition in Pittsburgh and all them to come away with all three points?
The match will be an exciting one and a good test for both teams and supporters. Be sure to catch the match at 7:00pm on YouTube streaming live from Highmark Stadium. You won’t want to miss this one.
Photo courtesy of Toronto Fc II.