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Game 31: The star over Toronto

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Robin Fraser takes on his former club this weekend.

MLS: Toronto FC at Colorado Rapids Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Robin Fraser’s about to have his second homecoming in four games. First, the Colorado Rapids went into the Red Bull Arena and promptly punched New York in the nose thanks to a brace from Jonathan Lewis. Now, we’re heading to do the same to Toronto FC. How does Fraser’s old team look?

Toronto has been in a rough position in 2019. They are above the playoff line but are far from secure as they enter the final four regular-season games. Even though they are effectively the same team from 2017—except for well-known DP Sebastian Giovinco—they are sitting in 4th place in the Eastern Conference this year. TFC are going to be playing to prove a point.

What’s confusing about Toronto is that they have one of the most expensive rosters in league history, but are still only getting middling results. USMNT players (and designated players) Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore occupy the 3rd and 4th slots for most expensive players in MLS. Additionally, newcomer Alejandro Pozuelo occupies the 8th spot. They are historically a team that spends a lot for key players and have previously enjoyed the success that comes along with that. This year, though, they aren’t making as big of an impact as you might expect.

Toronto plays around with their formation quite frequently, using a 4-4-2, 3-4-3, 4-1-4-1, and 4-2-3-1 in their last few games. Undefeated in the last six games, they have scored 50 goals this year, good enough to be one of the best offenses in the league. Conversely, though, they have allowed 47 goals, which also makes them one of the worst defenses in the league. I would expect this to be a high-scoring game on both sides of the scoreboard.

TFC’s big players are the trifecta of DPs: Altidore, Bradley, and Pozuelo. They also have a mix of players that U.S. and Canadian national team fans should be somewhat familiar with: Justin Morrow, Omar Gonzalez, and Marky Delgado. And we can’t forget about our beloved ex-Rapids player, Drew Moor.

This game is going to be a unique challenge for Fraser. He has spent the better part of the last five years with the team and knows how they play and what their tactics might be when facing any team in the league. This will be a test for Fraser and the Burgundy Boys against the team he has had more experience—and success—with than any other. Since the 2015 season, Toronto has made their way to earning a Supporters’ Shield, MLS Cup, three consecutive Canadian Championships (the Canadian equivalent of the US Open Cup), and an appearance in the MLS Cup Final and the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League. That is no small feat.

Now, it is just a matter of us seeing how well Fraser can take that winning mentality and apply it to the Rapids.