TORONTO, Ont.—What a productive long weekend it was for Toronto FC. The Reds recorded a second consecutive clean sheet, a fifth straight victory, and most importantly, clinched their spot in the MLS Playoffs on Sunday night, with six games to spare.
Now, as the Reds prepare to host the New York Red Bulls on just three-days rest, their attention can shift solely to the MLS Supporters’ Shield. Kick-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m EST.
Greg Vanney was able to rest a handful of players on Sunday night and turn to his bench for some important minutes. The rotations paid off handsomely as it was Patrick Mullins who found the back of the net for the game’s only goal, and Eriq Zavaleta played a key role in the clean sheet alongside Omar Gonzalez. Mullins and Zavaleta’s performances earned both a spot on the MLS Team of the Week.
While both Mullins and Zavaleta will likely start Wednesday’s match on the bench, Sunday night should give Vanney the belief that he can confidently turn to his bench to help ease the pressure off of his starters.
The Reds will be without captain Michael Bradley, lead talisman Jozy Altidore, left-back Justin Morrow, and second choice keeper Alex Bono through injury. Sunday night also saw Richie Laryea be substituted midway through the second half as well. After the game, however, Vanney eased concerns over the right-back’s injury concerns, stating that Laryea should be available for Wednesday night.
Laryea provided the assist for TFC’s goal Sunday night and has become a key part of the Reds’ offence in recent weeks. If healthy, Vanney will likely turn to his in-form fullback to extend TFC’s lead at the top of the East.
Standing in TFC’s way of extending their season win streak will be the Red Bulls. New York is coming off of their own 1-0 win against Atlanta on Saturday after snapping a two-game losing streak. This Red Bulls team is a different team than in past years. They’ve particularly have had a hard time filling the gaps left by two-time Golden Boot winner Bradley Wright-Phillips. While the offence has been more spread out in 2020, not having a central figure like Wright-Phillips has hurt the Red Bulls offence.
Despite schedules, travel, injuries, bubble-life and other factors TFC have faced in 2020, the Reds have been playing at a historic pace. Even better than the 2017 Treble winning side.
I like patterns...— Martyn Bailey (@martyn_bailey) October 12, 2020
2.18 > 2.12 > 2.09 > 2.03@TorontoFC @WakingtheRed @vocalminorityCA @24thminute @joshuakloke #TFCLive pic.twitter.com/L523dpUNnX
Shortened season or not, this has been an incredible season so far for the Reds, and it seems as they’re not yet satisfied.
#TFCLive Greg Vanney after the match on Toronto FC clinching a playoff spot : "I know the guys are proud of it, but they have their eyes on something a little bit bigger here over this stretch..."— Michael Singh (@MichaelSingh94) October 12, 2020
Toronto has been getting better and better with each passing game. Wednesday night will be another chance for the Reds to show why they are currently the team to beat in the MLS.
- This will the first time that the Reds and New York face-off in 2020. In two meetings last year, each team walked away with a win on their home turf
- With 10 assists this season, Alejandro Pozuelo leads the league in assists and is the sixth Toronto FC player to record double-digits in assists in a season. Sebastian Giovinco (three times), and Victor Vazquez are the others. MVP status.
How to Watch
Who: New York Red Bulls
When: Wednesday, October 14, 7:30 PM ET
Where: Rentschler Field, Connecticut
TV: TSN 1/3/4