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A Big Draw in the Big Apple: Thoughts on TFC vs. New York City FC

Some thoughts about Toronto FC managing to snag at late draw against New York City FC at Yankee Stadium.

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
For most in the Toronto FC organization, four points from the first two games would constitute a near perfect start to the 2016 campaign. Going into Red Bull Arena, where they have never won, and then playing New York City FC, who they have never beat, it was always going to be difficult to get results.

Here are some thoughts on Toronto FC's come from behind draw against NYCFC:

Halfway to their season opening road trip minimum minimum already

The expectations were made clear at last year's end of season press conference: at least eight points from the season opening road trip. That would give Toronto FC 1 point per game on the road, which is generally the average in Major League Soccer. For a TFC side that would constitute their best road season ever. Combined with good results at home, a club can do fairly well while collecting only a draw on average on the road.

With four points from their first two games of the season, Toronto FC are technically halfway there. However, some have misconstrued the idea that 8 points is the goal for Toronto's opening season road trip. It's not, it is the minimum expectation for coach Greg Vanney and his staff. Whatever the club's goal is for their first eight games, however, they are likely well on their way.

Clint Irwin stands tall in net

Irwin was good in a season opening clean sheet against the New York Red Bulls, but wasn't really tested as he only received one shot on target. Against New York City he was far more active, coming up against seven shots on target. Therefore this was a much better indicator of his abilities.

The results, while still early, are positive. Irwin could hardly be blamed for either of the goals: one of which was a penalty and the other a well placed volley from very close. He had some shaky moments, sure, including a sequence that saw the ball go across the Toronto goal line and almost off Damien Perquis' foot. But he held strong enough for the club to get a result, and made at least one spectacular save in the process.

Stuck in the Middle

Toronto's backline, with only two goals conceded in two games, can be happy with their early results. The offense, which has scored four goals in that time, can also be content despite the lack of chances created. The most concerning part of the field so far has been the midfield.

After acquiring Will Johnson in the offseason the club switched to a three in the midfield formation, which so far has been a failed experiment. The most noticeable player that it hurts is Michael Bradley, who is playing too deep and has struggled to create much in the first two games. The club's passing percentage has also been hurt, as they struggle to play the ball through the middle and instead have resorted to long balls from the back.

The good news in this regard is that it is still early, and the club has plenty of time to fix this as the season goes on. When Benoit Cheyrou came in at the end of the New York game the club clearly looked more comfortable, and as a result he has likely earned a start in the next match.

The bottom line

At home a performance like this, dominated in possession and chances, would be seen as disappointing. On the road, and this early in the season, Toronto take the points and keep their mouth shut. The positives outway the negatives easily in this one: the club look good not great defensively, can still come from behind on the road, and haven't even reached their potential yet. Plenty could still go wrong if some of the aforementioned isn't fixed, but so far so good on the season for TFC.