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Major League Soccer
Oct 1, 2023 at 12.30am UK
BMO Field
FC

Toronto
2 - 3
Cincinnati

Osorio (39', 44')
Antonoglou (74'), Osei Owusu (84')
FT(HT: 2-2)
Vazquez (28', 35'), Boupendza (72')

Preview: Toronto vs. FC Cincinnati - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Toronto vs. FC Cincinnati - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Major League Soccer clash between Toronto and FC Cincinnati, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

FC Cincinnati can officially clinch the MLS Supporters' Shield title with a single point on Saturday at BMO Field when they face Toronto.

The Reds were eliminated from postseason contention due to a 3-0 defeat at New York City FC last weekend, while the Orange and Blue beat Charlotte FC by that same score, putting them nine points clear of St Louis City for first in the overall standings.


Match preview

This weekend, a new era begins in Toronto as John Herdman makes his debut as the head coach in what could be the biggest challenge of his managerial career.

It would not be the first time the English-born coach comes into a difficult situation though, having previously taken over from the Canadian women's and men's national teams respectively following disappointing performances for each before turning both of those programs around.

Saturday will be his first taste of club coaching, with this Toronto side currently bottom of the Eastern Conference, having lost 13 of their last 14 matches in all competitions, including three straight domestically.

Herdman inherits a squad who have been outscored 9-1 in their last three domestic affairs and are in danger of finishing dead-last in the Eastern Conference for the first time since 2012, currently 10 points behind Inter Miami.

TFC need two points from their final four league fixtures to avoid either matching or setting a new club record for the fewest in a 34-game MLS season (23 in 2012), while they have to score at least two more goals to surpass the fewest-ever for this club in a single regular season (25 in 2007).

The Reds are averaging 0.73 points per game in 2023, the fewest in MLS, though 18 of their 22 points have occurred at BMO Field.

Toronto may want some pointers from their weekend opponents on how to transform from a bottom-feeder club to a contender, as FC Cincinnati have become the team to beat in MLS this season after being among the worst the league had ever seen in their opening three campaigns.

Pat Noonan has orchestrated the turnaround for the Orange and Blue, with his team on 62 points this season, two more than they had racked up in their first three MLS regular seasons combined before the former Philadelphia Union assistant arrived, while Cincy can surpass the New England Revolution for the most points in a single regular season (73 in 2021) should they win each of their remaining four fixtures.

Cincinnati have come back to win or draw their last three domestic road fixtures despite trailing in the second half, and another point would be enough to earn them the Supporters' Shield, which would be their first trophy since entering the league in 2019.

Throughout the 2023 domestic campaign, Cincinnati have shown the ability to win games in various ways by blowing out their opponents with four three-goal victories while also claiming three points in numerous close encounters, with 12 victories by a single goal.

Should they win their final two away contests before the playoffs commence, it would set a new regular season club record for the most road victories in a single campaign, surpassing the old mark of six set a year ago.

The Orange and Blue are a perfect 3-0 versus Toronto since Noonan took charge, outscoring the Canadians 7-1 over that stretch, while they have won five of their last six encounters against the Reds in this competition, though they have only won one of their three visits to BMO Field.

Toronto Major League Soccer form:

FC Cincinnati Major League Soccer form:


Team News

In their defeat to NYCFC, Toronto were without Lorenzo Insigne, Brandon Servania, Cassius Mailula, Cristian Gutierrez and Adama Diomande because of lower body issues, while Greg Ranjitsingh is still recovering from knee surgery and Sean Johnson is out after undergoing surgery on his hand.

Despite saving a Monsef Bakrar penalty in the opening half, the MLS debut for Luka Gavran proved to be a disappointment as the 23-year-old conceded three times in place of Tomas Romero in between the sticks.

Deandre Kerr has scored in each of his last two matches played at BMO Field as he, Insigne and Jonathan Osorio each netted in their 3-1 triumph over the Union at the end of August, with the 20-year-old home-grown striker now tied with Federico Bernardeschi for the team lead in goals this season (five).

Cincinnati were without Arquimides Ordonez versus Charlotte because of an issue in his leg, while Stiven Jimenez was omitted from the team sheet with a lower leg fracture.

Alvaro Barreal scored his second free-kick goal of the campaign last weekend, which stood up as the winner, Aaron Boupendza notched his fourth of the campaign, Luciano Acosta, the frontrunner for league MVP, had a goal and an assist for the sixth time in 2023, leading MLS in that department, while Roman Celentano did not have to make a single stop to collect his 11th clean sheet which puts him in a tie alongside Steve Clark, Stefan Frei and Jonathan Sirois for the most in the league this year.

Acosta has five goals in his Orange and Blue career versus TFC, with the Argentine contributing a goal and an assist in their 3-0 home victory against them earlier in the campaign on a night when Santiago Arias and Dominique Badji also found the back of the net.

Toronto possible starting lineup:
Romero; Franklin, Mabika, Rosted, Marshall-Rutty; Bradley, Coello; Osorio, Vazquez, Kerr; Bernardeschi

FC Cincinnati possible starting lineup:
Celentano; Hagglund, Mosquera, Gaddis; Arias, Nwobodo, Kubo, Barreal; Acosta; Boupendza, Badji


We say: Toronto 1-2 FC Cincinnati

Despite having clinched a playoff berth a long time ago, Noonan has managed to maintain a high level of intensity within this group and being a few games away from potentially making MLS history should keep them motivated this weekend.

Herdman is a wonderful motivator himself who seems to have the Midas touch with the national teams he has coached, but it will take more than his inspirational words to clean up Toronto's defensive frailties.

How to watch

You can watch Toronto vs. FC Cincinnati and every MLS match this season live on Apple TV. Click here for more details on how to subscribe.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data


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Premier League Table

Eastern Conference

TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Inter MiamiInter Miami18105342271535
2FC CincinnatiCincinnati1610332316733
3New York City FCNY City169252417729
4New York Red BullsNY Red Bulls178542923629
5Charlotte FCCharlotte FC177461818025
6Columbus Crew146622113824
7Toronto177372626024
8Philadelphia UnionPhiladelphia164842723420
9Nashville SCNashville164752022-219
10DC United174762531-619
11Orlando City164571624-817
12CF MontrealMontreal164572335-1217
13Atlanta UnitedAtlanta164482221116
14Chicago Fire173681729-1215
15New England RevolutionNew England1541101227-1513

Western Conference

TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Real Salt LakeSalt Lake1796236191733
2Los Angeles FCLos Angeles169342819930
3Minnesota UnitedMinnesota Utd168532821729
4Los Angeles GalaxyLA Galaxy177733125628
5Vancouver WhitecapsVancouver167452419525
6Austin FCAustin176562125-423
7Houston DynamoHouston166461818022
8Colorado RapidsColorado176472931-222
9Portland TimbersPortland185673232021
10Seattle SoundersSeattle174672021-118
11St Louis City163942325-218
12Sporting Kansas CityKansas173592632-614
13Dallas163581825-714
14San Jose EarthquakesEarthquakes1632112439-1511
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