This is the biggest game of the season to date for Toronto FC. Today's match against the New York Red Bulls is massive in the Eastern Conference and Supporters Shield races. Today, Toronto FC could also clinch a playoff spot, the earliest they have ever done that in an MLS season.
With that in mind, a lot of eyes from around the league will be on BMO Field today. That is sure to add some extra pressure, the kind that historically doesn't bode well for the club. Just look at their last home match against Montreal, where they missed a big opportunity in a 1-0 loss. They'll be looking to avoid that repeating at all costs today.
Here are three stories to look for in tonight's match:
Who starts in goal?
Alex Bono, likely, but it must have been a difficult decision. With Clint Irwin out injured, Bono has been brilliant in goal for Toronto FC. He is making himself incredibly difficult to take out of net, especially in a big game like this.
But with the playoffs just around the corner, Toronto FC really need to get Clint Irwin some reps soon if they mean to use him. This match could be the closest thing Toronto will get to a playoff match in the regular season. The problem is that Irwin has yet to look fully fit, and has struggled at the USL level.
Win and they are in, it is simple as that for Toronto FC. A victory would see them clinch a playoff spot for the second straight year, and this time in far more impressive fashion. It is worth noting, and many already have, that the last time TFC clinched a playoff spot also came in a match against the New York Red Bulls.
If they draw, which less emphatic, would also see them make the playoffs. This happened as a result of what was pretty much a perfect Saturday for Toronto, as all the matches around the league seemed to go their way. This gives them an opportunity to create some space with those below them. If they lose, however, they will have to wait a bit longer to get a little "x" next to their name in the standing.
Jozy's chance to shine.
Today is easily one of the biggest games that Jozy Altidore has played in since joining Toronto FC. The often injured striker has had an up and down time with club, but lately, he has been at his best.
With Sebastian Giovinco still questionable for today's match, and Tosaint Ricketts out injured, a lot of weight will be on Altidore's shoulders. But it also will give him a chance to prove why the club has invested so much in him. Who will play beside Altidore, or if they will play two strikers at all, will also be interesting. Jordan Hamilton would be the favourite, but Mo Babouli might be the better fit in terms of style.
Toronto FC: Bono; Morrow, Moor, Zavaleta, Beitashour; Bradley, Johnson, Delgado, Osorio; Hamilton, Altidore
Subs: Irwin, Hagglund, Lovitz, Cheyrou, Cooper, Endoh, Babouli.
New York Red Bulls: Robles; Lawrence, Perrinelle, Collin, Duvall; Davis, Felipe, Royers, Kljestan, Muyl; Wright-Phillips
Venue: BMO Field, Toronto, ON
Kickoff: 5:00 p.m. Eastern
SB Nation Opposition Blog: Once a Metro
TV: Fox, TSN 2
Radio: TSN 1050
Streaming: TSN Go