One game, three points. Exactly the start that Toronto FC wanted to begin the 2016 season and historically, this is a fixture that Toronto FC has secured. Over the last three seasons the Reds have picked up season opening wins in Seattle, Vancouver and now New Jersey. While they have managed get results on opening day fans won't be expecting wins to continue over the course of the road trip. Here are the need to knows for Sunday's game if Toronto FC is to leave the Empire State unbeaten.
These teams have only ever met three times before, all heated engagements with a rough and tumble 2-0 loss at BMO field followed up by a 4-4 draw in Yankee Stadium. and another 2-0 loss in New York. While it is hard to gauge the kind of game we'll see Sunday we know that both teams are coming in undefeated.
Last week NYCFC dominated and took all three points in Chicago scoring four goals in the process. Despite Chicago expecting to be a bottom feeder team, NYCFC's attack was firing on all cylinders with goals coming from both the midfield and the forwards. If Toronto FC has ambitions of a clean sheet they will need to defend as a unit, starting at the defense and putting pressure on the midfield to limit the NYCFC's flow of play.
Cue the Fireworks
Previous games have been fiery affairs with the BMO fixture remembered as a physical and at times harsh battle. NYCFC took to Giovinco in Toronto fouling him a season high five times while many of the fouls were off the ball with clear tactics that if you can't beat them, beat them up. Switching over to the Bronx fixture, there were four penalty kicks called and eight goals scored between the team. While Toronto FC will be looking to continue momentum on their long road trip expect the team to remember the fiery affairs from the past as this game can be expected to get chippy.
The Shoebox Field
One thing that both teams will have to deal with is the small field that NYCFC plays on. Yankee Stadium, the temporary home of NYCFC, hasn't been accommodating to the world's game with smaller pitch dimensions ensuring the field doesn't interfere with the baseball set-up. This was a thorn in the side of Greg Vanney in past games and TFC will need to be more aware of the limited time and space they'll have on the ball. In past TFC has played counter attacking football in this stadium most noted in the 4-4 tie. Three of TFC's goals came on the counter attack with the fourth being a penalty kick. With NYCFC lining up in a 4-3-3 on Sunday expect similar tactics to emerge from Vanney's locker-room.
This may be one of the most difficult matches to call for TFC this season. There has been little consistency in previous results - aside from NYCFC picking up points in all of them. After a gritty performance last week in Jersey, Toronto FC saw little possession but took their chances. We can expect a similar game with similar tactics with Vanney and NYCFC will lining up with 4-3-3 formations. If Toronto FC can be clinical and allow cooler heads to prevail they will remain unbeaten and leave New York with all six points. Toronto FC 2 - 1 NYCFC.