Real Salt Lake host Toronto FC in their first early afternoon game of the season. The excellent folks over at Waking The Red answered a few of our questions ahead of this match:
Toronto FC’s form looks to have already improved in 2019 over the previous season. What changes were made to help get the team back on track? How is the old guard, like Altidore and Bradley, doing this season?
At the beginning of the season, Toronto FC picked up 10 points in 4 matches, but since then, have 7 points in 7. The introduction of Alejandro Pozuelo has helped them offensively, which helps them get points, but defensively, they are giving up too many goals, which in turn loses them. As for Bradley and Altidore, Michael Bradley remains one of the hardest working players on the field and runs from whistle to whistle. At times he sits too deep, which can create a pocket of space in midfield, but he’s still a great player on both sides of the ball. For Jozy, as has been a theme over the last few years, has been battling injuries. After missing a few game earlier in the season, he is now dealing with a heel injury, suffered during recovery from a calf injury. No word yet on if he’ll play on Saturday, but he didn’t even make the bench on Wednesday.
Alejandro Pozuelo was brought in to replace Giovinco . He has five goals for the team in ten games — how has he measured up to Gio’s standard? How is his game different and what have defenders done to successfully shut him down?
Although Pozuelo joined a few games into the season, he has been the best player for the Reds thus far. As he’s a midfielder rather than a striker, he isn’t an exact replacement for Sebastian Giovinco, but his ability to produce goals has replaced Giovinco nicely. Since the ball almost always goes through Alejandro, some teams have had two defenders following him at all times. Atlanta United shut him down doing that, and he was nearly invisible.
Toronto appointed Ali Curtis as the club’s general Manager in 2019. It’s his first time holding that role. How has he done so far and have you seen any impact from his leadership on the field?
Ali Curtis didn’t exactly make the best first impression on TFC fans, as within a month of his arrival, Sebastian Giovinco, Victor Vasquez and Nick Hagglund all left the club. He has since brought in four players so far: Terrence Boyd, Quentin Westberg, Richie Laryea, and the aforementioned Alejandro Pozuelo. Westberg is putting up a strong case to take Alex Bono’s starting job in goal, and Pozuelo is an early candidate for MVP in my opinion. The other two, Boyd and Laryea are primarily depth signings, but have seen increased minutes because of a couple of injuries/ this busy 5 game in 15 days stretch that TFC will end on Saturday. I think Ali Curtis has done a pretty good job so far, but not signing anyone at the deadline could prove to be the wrong decision.