FC Cincinnati 2 head north of the border Sunday night as they face a red-hot Toronto FC II at York Lions Stadium. This weekend’s contest is the third and final meeting between the teams this season with each side picking up home wins earlier in the year. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. ET.
FC Cincinnati 2 at TORONTO FC II
Date: August 21, 2022
Competition: MLS NEXT Pro Regular Season
Site: York Lions Stadium, Toronto, Canada
Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET
April 3, 2022, NKU Soccer Stadium - CIN (2:1) TOR
CIN – A. Ordóñez (4’), K. Cela (73’ OG)
TOR – T. Antonoglou (10’)
April 30, 2022, BMO Field – TOR (4:2) CIN
TOR – P. Rothrock (50’), R. Walkes (66’), J. Altobelli (74’), M. Marshall (95+5’ OG)
CIN – G. Valenzuela (12’), M. Ruszel (47’)
In an instant MLS NEXT Pro classic, FCC 2 took two points in a shootout win against Columbus Crew 2 at TQL Stadium last Sunday. Columbus jumped out to a 2-0 first-half lead and looked to be in full control of the match. But three second-half goals from FCC 2 sent the game to a shootout where the Orange and Blue would win, 4-2. Calvin Harris scored his first goal for the 2s including a late stoppage-time penalty to tie the match at 3-3.
Toronto FC II continued their torrid run of form beating Rochester New York FC 2-1 in upstate New York. TFC II opened the scoring fourteen minutes in and held a 1-0 lead heading into the half. Rochester’s Gibran Rayo leveled things in the 68th minute before Reshaun Walkes, coming on as a second-half substitute, put the visitors ahead eight minutes later. Walkes’ goal would prove to be enough earning TFC II three points on the night.
KNOW YOUR OPPONENT
Toronto FC II may be the best story of MLS NEXT Pro’s inaugural season. A rocky first-half start saw Toronto earn just ten points in ten matches, culminating with a 6-2 home loss against Chicago Fire II on May 27th. Since then, TFC II are unbeaten and enter Sunday’s tie riding a four-match winning streak. Toronto has a balanced and calculated attack (no player has scored more than five goals this season) and a strong, consistent backline. TFC II have conceded 28 goals, good for third best in the East, and have three shutouts in their last five matches. Toronto sit second in the Eastern Conference with nine wins on the season.
WHO/WHAT TO WATCH
Gerardo Valenzuela – Gerardo Valenzuela played an instrumental role in FCC 2s comeback against Columbus Crew 2. Coming on as a second-half substitute, Valenzuela assisted on both FCC 2 goals and converted on his shootout attempt. Valenzuela now has 9 starts for the Orange and Blue this year playing 611 minutes in 11 total appearances for the 2s. The FCC Academy product will be eager to build on last weekend's solid outing.
Paul Rothrock – If anyone is to jumpstart Toronto’s attack it’s midfielder Paul Rothrock. Tied for a team lead in goals (5), Rothrock started the comeback for TFC II against the Orange and Blue in the last meeting. Rothrock has 5 assists to match his goal total and leads Toronto in shots (24), shots on target (14), and key passes (20).
LET’S TALK PLAYOFFS – Things are starting to heat up around the playoff line in the Eastern Conference. FCC 2 aren't mathematically eliminated from postseason play but must take three points against TFC II and have a few league results go their way to stay alive.
Toronto didn’t look like a playoff team a few weeks ago but they are now in the driver's seat for one of the four Eastern Conference spots. There’s still work to be done but Toronto have positioned themselves well for a run at the playoffs.
LATE SEASON FORM – It looks like the Orange and Blue are starting to find their groove. FCC 2 have scored at least one goal in each of their last four and have scored multiple goals in three of those matches. A 1-1-2 record over that span is tied for the second-best stretch of the season with the Orange and Blue earning six of their fifteen total points on the year.
PENALTIES! – It took 16 matches for FCC 2 to face an extra-time shootout but have now been involved in two over their last four. The 2s hold a 1-1 record in the shootout while TFC II are 2-1. FCC 2 converted on all four shootout attempts against Columbus last week with goalkeeper Alec Kann making two saves.
“We’ve shown well against the top teams. We seem to rise to the occasion. We played them [Toronto] here, at home, in the first game this season, which we won. We went up there and were up 2-1 or 2-0 and they came back, so, it’s been a good back and forth battle. They are a good squad; they are on a good run now. We have to go in with the same attitude, the same grit, and fight and see what happens.”
Head Coach Tyrone Marshall on Sunday’s match
ABOUT FC CINCINNATI 2
FC Cincinnati 2 began play in MLS NEXT Pro in 2022. FCC 2 is designed to serve as the bridge between the FCC first team and the Academy and is a professional pathway for players to grow and develop at FC Cincinnati. The club plays its matches at NKU Soccer Stadium, Mercy Health Training Center, and TQL Stadium.
ABOUT MLS NEXT PRO
Launched in March 2022 by Major League Soccer, MLS NEXT Pro is a professional men’s soccer league in the United States and Canada that completes the pro player pathway. With 21 Clubs competing during the inaugural season – 20 MLS-affiliated and one independent club, Rochester New York FC – MLS NEXT Pro is growing the game through innovation and diversity by bringing professional soccer to new communities and creating opportunities both on and off the field. Seven MLS-affiliated clubs will join MLS NEXT Pro in 2023, pending sanctioning by the U.S. Soccer Federation: Atlanta United, Austin FC, Charlotte FC, LA Galaxy, Los Angeles Football Club, Nashville Soccer Club and New York Red Bulls. Additional MLS-affiliated and independent clubs will join in the years ahead. Beginning in 2023, MLS NEXT Pro matches will be streamed live on the Apple TV app as part of the monumental partnership between Apple and Major League Soccer. For more information about MLS NEXT Pro, visit mlsnextpro.com.