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Toronto FC looks to ground high-flying Philadelphia Union on Saturday

TORONTO — Squeezed between do-or-die NBA playoff games between the Raptors and 76ers, Toronto FC hosts a high-flying Philadelphia team of its own Saturday when the Union visit BMO Field.

TORONTO — Squeezed between do-or-die NBA playoff games between the Raptors and 76ers, Toronto FC hosts a high-flying Philadelphia team of its own Saturday when the Union visit BMO Field.

The Union (6-3-2) top the MLS Eastern Conference while leaving a trail of unemployed coaches in their wake this season.

Philadelphia is coming off a 6-1 weekend win over New England that helped lead to Thursday's dismissal of Revolution coach Brad Friedel. The game before that was a 2-0 win over FC Cincinnati, who fired Alan Koch one loss later.

Philadelphia is unbeaten in its last four outings (3-0-1), collecting 10 of a possible 12 points while outscoring the opposition 12-2. Jim Curtin's squad has lost just once in its last nine league games (6-1-2) while posting four shutouts and outscoring the opposition 20-6.

"They're a good pressing team," said Toronto coach Greg Vanney. "They're energetic. They're a fast team ... but probably as much as anything they're very well connected defensively. They press you quick, try to force turnovers and they're a good team in transition." 

The Union record has largely been built at home this season. Philadelphia is 5-1-0 at Talen Energy Stadium and 1-2-2 on the road.

The lone loss at home came in the season opener March 2 when the Union was beaten 3-1 by Toronto. Philadelphia has won a club-record five straight at home since then, conceding just twice during the run.

Toronto (5-3-1) looks likely to be bolstered by the return of veteran defender Drew Moor, who missed the last five games with first an adductor injury and then a calf issue, and star striker Jozy Altidore, who has sat out the last three with a hamstring issue.

There's no word on whether the two will start or open on the bench. Both are listed as probable.

"Barring anything between today and (Saturday), they should be involved (Saturday)," said Vanney.

Moor had hoped to accompany the team on its recent road trip — which started with a 2-0 win in Orlando on Saturday and finished with a 2-0 loss Wednesday in Atlanta — but team doctors held him back.

"I'm feeling good, ready to go," said Moor. "I've been training all week with no limits."

Altidore did not speak to reporters after training Friday.

Moor has been missed although fellow centre backs Chris Mavinga, Laurent Ciman and Eriq Zavaleta have played better as the season has progressed.

Some spark on offence is needed. Toronto was outshot 19-8 (5-0 in shots on target) in Atlanta.

Vanney dug deep into his roster at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, essentially using just three starters — midfielders Michael Bradley, Alejandro Pozuelo and Nick DeLeon — after enduring a steamy afternoon in Orlando. Alex Bono, who is fighting to keep his No. 1 position in goal, started midweek after sitting out three of the previous four games with Quentin Westberg preferred.

Toronto, which did not make a move at the transfer deadline, is suffering from inconsistency. After winning its first three league games and tying the fourth, it has gone loss-win-loss-win-loss.



Saturday, BMO Field.

FORM GUIDE: Toronto is unbeaten in its last 10 regular-season matches (8-0-2) against Philadelphia dating back to 2014.

TOUGH STRETCH: Saturday marks the middle point of five games in 15 days for Toronto. Things don't get any easier next week when D.C. United visits Wednesday.

U.S. CALL-UP: Toronto will lose 19-year-old forward Ayo Akinola after the D.C. United game as he joins the U.S. squad for the FIFA U20 World Cup, which runs May 23 to June 9 in Poland.


Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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