Competition: MLS Cup Playoffs (Eastern Conference Semifinal – First Leg) – Toronto FC vs. New York City FC
Venue: BMO Field – Sunday, October 30 – 19:00 ET (23:00 GMT)
Match Odds: Toronto 4/5 – Draw 5/2 – NYCFC 16/5
Toronto FC welcome New York City FC to BMO Field for the first-leg of their Eastern Conference Semifinal showdown on Sunday night, with both sides surely fancying their chances of progressing in what is an excellent fixture.
Neither of these sides have ever been in this position before. But they both deserve to be here after excellent seasons and that’s what makes this all the more exciting.
Some of the league’s biggest names will go head-to-head, with NYCFC’s Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard and David Villa facing off against Toronto’s Michael Bradley, Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore.Embed from Getty Images
Toronto advanced through the Knockout Round with a 3-1 home win over Philadelphia on Wednesday night. They will need another strong performance in front of their own fans here, but need to hope the short rest doesn’t leave them fatigued.
Greg Vanney’s men are favourites for this match and they will fully expect to travel to Yankee Stadium with an aggregate lead ahead of the return leg next weekend.
Toronto’s only home game against NYCFC this season ended 1-1 so the Reds need to ensure they do enough to win what is going to be a tough game.
New York City enjoyed a Knockout Round bye after finishing the regular season in second place in the East. Patrick Vieira’s men rounded off a fine season with a 4-1 win over Columbus last Sunday and will be hoping the full week’s rest gives them an advantage here.Embed from Getty Images
NYCFC are appearing in the playoffs for the first time in what is just their second season in MLS. That might affect some of their squad, but the experience of Pirlo, Lampard and Villa should ensure they remain in this tie beyond the first leg.
The visitors have only won one of their last seven away games in MLS and that will be a concern heading into a very difficult road game here.
This will be the sixth clash between the two sides since NYCFC entered MLS in 2015. Toronto have yet to beat New York City, with three of the five previous games ending in draws.
Ashtone Morgan remains Toronto’s only injury concern ahead of the game and he is expected to remain sidelined here. Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore will continue up front after tearing apart the Philadelphia defence on Wednesday evening.
New York City FC remain without Connor Brandt and Shannon Gomez. Frank Lampard returned to action against Columbus Crew last weekend and should be ready to start this one, with Jack Harrison perhaps dropping to the bench.
Toronto FC’s last five: D/L/D/W/W
NYCFC’s last five: D/W/W/L/W
Key Stat: Away troubles – New York City have only won one of their last seven away games in MLS and have conceded 15 goals in that time.
Key Player: Sebastian Giovinco – There is no doubt that Toronto are a much better side when the incredible Italian takes to the field. He shone in Wednesday’s win over Philadelphia and is looking back to full fitness at the perfect time for his side. He delivers when it matters most and will need to do so again here to give the hosts the advantage after the first leg.Embed from Getty Images
Toronto FC 2-1 New York City FC – Toronto to beat New York City for the first time to take a slim advantage into the second leg next weekend. This is a huge game for both, but Toronto know that failure to win here would leave them with a mountain to climb at Yankee Stadium next weekend. There should be a few goals here, but ultimately the Reds look likely to edge it by the odd goal.