The Headliner: A statement game for Toronto FC
The confidence of Toronto FC supporters in their team going into the Copa America break relies heavily on the result of today's game. If Toronto FC can win, their fourth win of the season away from home, it will put them near the top of the Eastern Conference. A loss, and they could just as easily drop out of the playoffs.
It's a little early to be talking about playoffs, but Toronto considers themselves a contender, and about a third of the way through the season being out of a playoff spot is a bad look. So there is plenty to play for today.
The big question for Toronto FC will be their absences, and how they can replace them. Sebastian Giovinco remains with the club after not being called up for Euro 2016. But the club has really struggled to generate offence in the absence of Jozy Altidore.
Now, they will have to find a way to replace Michael Bradley in the midfield. This season has undoubtedly been Bradley's best with Toronto FC, as he has meshed with will a number of complimentary pieces, and truly become the "general" of the team.
Not only will Bradley's play on the field be missed, his leadership will as well. He was the Captain after all, and therefore another player, likely Will Johnson or Drew Moor, will have to step up. The burden of replacing him will have to be shouldered by many players, with Johnson, Jonathan Osorio, Jay Chapman and Tsubasa Endoh all needed big performances.
Speaking of big performances, the New York Red Bulls are coming off one of the biggest blowouts in MLS history. They destroyed cross-town rivals New York City FC 7-0 in their derby game last weekend, asking plenty of questions about whether they have finally woken up after a slow start to the season.
Key to the Game: Soak Up Early Pressure
There is definitely an after effect to winning a game by seven goals, and Toronto FC will likely feel the Red Bulls wrath early on in this match. Being able to survive that attack, especially without conceding the first goal, is crucial.
Toronto has failed to win this season when they give up the first goal, and it won't be easy to fight back. New York isn't great defensively, they have conceded 20 goals already this season, but Toronto can't rely on them breaking down.
TFC did an excellent job of handling the Red Bulls the last time the two clubs played, and a similar performance will be needed today if they want to walk out of Red Bull Arena with the full three points.
Toronto FC: Irwin; Morrow, Moor, Perquis, Beitashour; Osorio, Johnson, Delgado; Babouli, Lovitz, Giovinco
Subs: Bono, Hagglund, Zavaleta, Morgan, Cheyrou, Chapman, Hamilton
New York Red Bulls: Robles; Zizzo, Collin, Zubar, Lade; McCarthy, Felipe; Kljestan, Grella, Veron; Wright-Phillips
Location: Red Bulls Arena Harrisburg, New Jersey
Kick-off time: 7:00 PM Eastern
SB Nation OPPOSITION Blog: Once a Metro
Available streaming: Sportsnet Now
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.