Today could be considered a trap game of sorts for Toronto FC. With one foot already in the Conference Finals after a 2-0 home victory last week, all Toronto FC has to do today is hold on to their lead. Most are already looking past NYCFC and on to bigger things.
Toronto FC players, however, cannot afford to look past an opponent who they have only ever beaten once. Especially when the match is being played at Yankee Stadium and its smaller surface, where chances and goals are almost certain to happen.
The two sides only met in New York once this year, and it ended in a 2-2 draw. A repeat of that result would work out just fine for Toronto FC, who essentially only need to not lose by a more than two-goal margin in order to advance to their first ever Conference Finals.
Here are three stories going into today's game:
The Away Goal
Courtesy of a huge home performance, Toronto FC can get past New York today without scoring. However, getting a goal or more would make things much easier. Should TFC score, New York has to find the back of the net at least four times in order to advance.
It's not impossible, but considering the fact that Toronto FC has only given up four goals once this season, and scored three of their own in that match, it would be a big hill to climb. Look for TFC to try and put the nail in the coffin early in this match, knowing what it will mean.
Defend or Attack
Greg Vanney has some decisions to make. The team that he has rolled out the last three games is more attacking than defending, with Armando Cooper and Jonathan Osorio in the midfield. Today, Vanney must decide if it is worth replacing one of them with a more defensively sound Marky Delgado or Will Johnson.
There are two schools of thinking on this. One is that defence is the primary goal in this match, and Toronto FC might as well have themselves as protected as possible. The second is not wanting to mess with a formula that has undoubtedly seen Toronto play some of their best soccer of the year when they needed it most.
Things got a little heated last Sunday. David Villa kicked out at Armando Cooper but avoided a suspension this week. Cooper responded in kind and was given a yellow card. It was Toronto's only yellow card on that day, while New York was handed five.
Whether the teams are still mad at each other remains to be seen, but Toronto FC had best be careful. Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley and Cooper will all be suspended for a game should they pick up another yellow card. That would be a big loss as all three have come up big during these playoffs.
Toronto FC: Irwin; Hagglund, Zavaleta, Moor; Beitashour, Morrow, Bradley, Cooper, Osorio; Altidore, Giovinco
Subs: Bono, Bloom, Cheyrou, Delgado, Johnson, Ricketts, Williams
New York City FC: Johansen; Matarrita, Chanot, Brillant, Allen; Lampard, Iraola, Pirlo; Harrison, McNamara, Villa
Venue: Yankee Stadium New York, New York
Kickoff: 6:30 p.m. Eastern
SB Nation Opposition Blog: Hudson River Blue
TV: TSN 4
Radio: TSN 1050