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FT: Toronto FC 1-0 New York City FC—Match Thread and Starting Lineups

The Reds return home to BMO Field for the first time in 2020, looking to cement their fortress. Follow along and chime in with Brady Reid.

MLS: New York City FC at Toronto FC
Toronto FC defender Justin Morrow (2) and New York City FC defender Ben Sweat (2) battle for a ball during the first half at BMO Field
(Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports)

Match Thread

FT: Toronto FC 1-0 NYC FC — The Reds hold on to secure all three points and stay undefeated through two matches this season. Not picture perfect but solid for Vanney’s team today.

90+3’ — Achara comes off to a heroe’s salute and is replaced by Patrick Mullins.

90+3’ — Chance! Altidore gets yet another chance for his goal but can’t beat Johnson. The American keeper has been incredible today.

90’ — Fourth official has added three minutes here. Find a way to hold on.

87’ — Chance! Pozuelo’s perfectly weighted pass sends Altidore through on goal but he sends it high. Hasn’t been his day from a finishing standpoint.

86’ — Laryea has really brought some energy since coming on, but what else is new. Dangerous runs and deliveries on several occasions.

81’ — GOAL! Toronto FC 1-0 New York. Achara finally gets his goal and it’s a huge one with under ten to play, breaking the deadlock. Laryea’s dangerous cross deflected over Johnson before Achara inched it over the line with the header. What a debut for #99.

80’ — New York use their final sub as Moralez is replaced by Gary Mackay-Steven. Vanney still holding on to a couple of subs here with ten minutes to go in regular time.

76’ — Corner wasted by Toronto there. Alitdore’s been finding space aerially this half, give the big man a chance.

74’ — Chance! Delgado curls one over the bar just inside the box following some strong hold up play from Altidore.

72’ — Valentin Castellanos and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi coming in for the visitors replacing Mitrida and Medina. New York clearly still in it for all three points.

71’ — Another Altidore header, this one a little behind him and too far out to trouble Johnson too much.

70’ — Chance! Laryea whips in a low, driven ball which is cleared inches beyond the far post and out for a corner. Momentum swinging back in the favour of the home side.

68’ — Chance! Altidore with a pair of headers that both somehow stay out thanks to some combination of Johnson and his defenders. Great delivery from Pozuelo.

67’ — Delgado draws a foul near the corner of the 18-yard box. TFC need something to get some energy back into things.

64’ — NYC FC carrying the play for large spells of this second half. I’d expect Vanney looks to his bench for a spark somewhere around the 70-75 minute mark.

60’ — Save! Big stop from Westberg denying a a great chance for Medina just outside the six yard box. TFC owe their keeper one here.

57’ — The Venezuelan appears to have ran his race as Richie Laryea replaces him on the right side. Good shift from Gallardo.

55’ — Gallardo is down and in some considerable pain. Scratch that he’s back up and running.

53’ — Chance! Altidore gets a good look on goal, dragging one just wide off both Johnson and the far post, his best chance so far.

52’ — Gallardo whips in a low, dangerous cross looking for Jozy but the skipper can’t connect.

50’ — First corner of the game for the visitors with the ball eventually cleared before a bit of a scramble. New York showing a bit more life off the hop here.

46’ — Second half underway and Pozuelo’s got his shooting boots on once again here. Same side that started out for the second frame.

HT: Toronto FC 0-0 NYC FC — Decent half from TFC who after a slow start definitely took the game over in the final half hour of that half. Unlucky not to be up one or two but tons to build on in the next 45.

45’ — Chance! Achara curls one into the far post forcing a big save from Johnson. Corners adding up as well here, got to see Gonzalez or one of the big boys making one of these count eventually. Six minutes of added time.

43’ — Osorio breaks up a New York counter with a quality tackle getting all ball. Really the first time NYCFC have crossed half with any purpose in some time, so a key intervention there to keep momentum in TFC’s favour.

41’ — Chance! Pozuelo strikes the bar with a delicately placed left foot strike. Oh so close to opening the score. A goal feels inevitable here.

39’ — Chance! Jozy spins his defender and has a strike which he only half catches, Johnson gathers with ease in the end.

38’ — Fouls adding up for NYCFC. Reds need to keep pressing as frustration is clearly mounting with the lack of touches.

36’ — Poz sends it straight into the wall, another frustrating effort for him. Corner coming for the Reds, the push is on before halftime.

35’ — Jozy earns a free-kick just outside the box, this one definitely in range for #10. Another yellow issued, this time to Sands.

33’ — Gonzalez just misses getting a toe on a dangerous ball to the back post. They look the much more likely side of the two to score at the moment.

31’ — Mavinga limps off momentarily but is back out there for Toronto. Possession starting to swing their way a half hour into this one.

29’ — VAR not in the Reds favour once again, no penalty. To be fair, likely the right decision.

27’ — Morrow is giving shouts for a penalty, ref initially says nothing there but now he’s heading to the monitor. Johnson’s sweating...

25’ — TFC starting to take control of the match, need to find a way to get the big man up top more involved.

23’ — Johnson scoops it up with ease. We’ll still gave Alejandro the advantage in this duo’s head to head from the dead ball.

22’ — Free-kick to the Reds just inside Poz range. Yellow issued to the New York skipper.

19’ — Chance! Kick save and a beauty from Q as Parks finds himself in behind on a tight angle. First decent look for the away side.

15’ — Both teams have had their fair share of the ball through fifteen, with Achara’s goal which was ultimately ruled out the sole clear chance. Any thoughts through the first quarter-hour?

13’ — VAR: No Goal. Achara is ruled to have been offside. What a tough break for TFC, tack on more of that added time. Welp.

11’ — GOAL! Toronto FC 1-0 NYCFC. What a debut from the youngster! Achara taps in at the back post off a brilliant feed from Oso.

9’ — Callens down for NYCFC for a fair amount of time, can already expect some free footy at the end of this half.

5’ — Defensively this is very much a 4-4-2 once again with Poz sliding up beside Jozy. NYCFC with some decent spells of possession so far.

3’ — We’re underway and both sides are looking to play early on. Gallardo and Achara giving the Reds that genuine width they often lacked last year.

Pre-match commentary

5:00 p.m. — It’s five o’clock somewhere and that somewhere is BMO Field. This place is ready to go, are you?

4:50 p.m. — Montreal looking good once again up 2-0 down in Dallas with about five minutes to go, Maxi Urruti with the brace. That 401 derby should be tasty this year.

4:40 p.m. — Both teams out for warmups and damn is that pitch looking good for early March. Also, shoutuout Achara rocking #99, you love to see it.

4:27 p.m. — NYCFC starting lineup is out and posted below. They’re without defender Maxine Chanot who was sent off just three minutes in last weekend in their 1-0 loss to the Crew.

4:20 p.m. — Still no lineup for NYCFC, will post below when we get word on that front. In the meantime, how about the youth for TFC getting a look? Exciting day for Achara, Nelson and Co.

4:05 p.m. — Just under an hour from kickoff at BMO. Lineups are out, sun is shining. Who’s ready to rock?

Starting Lineups

TFC’s first home starting XI is out, who had Achara in theirs!? What a chance for the youngster.

Here’s the team they’ll be facing today.

Preview (courtesy Aasim Hashim)

TORONTO, Ont.—The Reds are back at home! For the first time in 2020, Toronto FC will take to the field in front of the hometown faithful and look to once again turn BMO field into a fortress.

On the other side of the field will be a familiar foe, New York City FC. Over the last few seasons, this match-up has provided TFC fans with some exciting and memorable moments. As Martyn Bailey mentioned in his By the Number preview piece, Toronto FC have only lost twice in their last 11 matches against NYCFC.

Last season, the Reds secured two wins and a draw in three games against the Blues—and these were certainly matches to remember. Up first was a memorable debut.

Since signing with the Reds in March 2019, Alejandro Pozuelo has had some fun torching our Big Apple rivals. In his first match for TFC, he set the tone: Pozuelo scored two goals—including the goal that he recently told TSN’s Kristian Jack was possibly the best in his career—while also adding a helper en route to a 4-0 win.

Later in the season at Yankee Stadium, Pozuelo found the back of the net once again leading TFC to 1-1 draw.

And who can forget the memorable Eastern Conference Semifinal last year where Pozuelo launched the Reds into the Eastern Conference Final with two goals, including a 90th-minute Panenka from the spot.

Looking ahead to Saturday, there will likely be some changes to the TFC starting XI but those might not come in midfield. Although Liam Fraser was expected to start in the “Bradley” role, Vanney opted for an Osorio/Delgado central midfield in their season opening 2-2 draw. San Jose’s style meant that Vanney didn’t have much of a need for a holding midfielder and instead needed a more mobile midfield which left Fraser on the bench for most of the match.

Greg Vanney told TSN’s Kristian Jack that Fraser was left out of the starting eleven to give the midfielder some rest after a busy pre-season and to match what he expected from San Jose.

On the whole, the defensive structure of the team did work as TFC looked strong for most of the 90 minutes through the middle of the pitch and limited San Jose’s chances. A 2-2 draw, of course, means that there is work still to be done, but it was certainly an encouraging showing on the road for a squad coming off of a 4-6-7 away record in 2019.

Although New York City plays a different brand of soccer compared to San Jose, Vanney might be tempted to leave the starting line up relatively untouched, and pressure the Blues further up the pitch.

Should Vanney decide to go with a more traditional look, however, Fraser would more than likely be the beneficiary of the change and look to make an impression in the holding midfield role.

The attack against San Jose did leave something to be desired. Vanney conceded post-match that the Quakes’ style and it being the first game of the season might have had something to do with it. There were positives last week, but there are certainly spots that this group can improve on against New York City.

“I’ll be honest, San Jose is a tough team to play in your first game,” said Greg Vanney post-match. “The uniqueness of the style means you have to outwork them individually, around the field. For a lot of the game, we did.”

Vanney’s hand was forced with injuries to new signing Pablo Piatti and Erickson Gallardo, who was on the bench but not fit enough to start. This set up an opening for Jacob Shaffelburg, who is a candidate to be TFC’s breakout player of the year. Although he only lasted 45 minutes due to injury, it was a largely forgettable half for the youngster. Shaffelburg’s injury should open up a spot for Gallardo as he gets closer to full fitness and is expected to play a role this weekend.

Standing in the way of TFC’s first victory of the season will be the Blues. While TFC has managed positive results against New York City in the past, this will be a tough test for this Toronto squad. Since entering the league, the Blues have put together strong regular seasons, including finishing first in the Eastern Conference in 2019 before losing to Toronto.

With New York’s involvement in the Concacaf Champions League, they have had an earlier start to the season, playing more competitive games than TFC. After defeating San Carlos 6-3 over two legs in the round of 16, the Blues booked their spot in the quarter-final against Mexican powerhouse Tigres.

In the MLS, however, New York hasn’t had the start they had hoped for. Thanks to an early red card to Maxime Chanot in the season opener, 10-man New York went on to lose 1-0 on the road in Columbus.

With the start of a busy period for New York that will see them play four games in about 10 days, along with Chanot’s suspension, the Blues may be forced into a bit of a rotated squad which could play right into TFC’s hands.

Predicted Starting XI:

Graphic made by Jeffrey P. Nesker and Patrick Ryder

Additional Notes:

  • Last week’s draw meant that Greg Vanney is still sitting on 99 wins. No better place to get your 100th than in front of your home crowd.
  • As mentioned, Pozuelo has scored in all three appearances against New York, netting five times in three matches.
  • For some fun viewing: Reds striker Jozy Altidore co-hosted TSN’s Sportscentre program on Wednesday evening and proved his loyalty to Toronto FC once again.

How to watch:

Kickoff is set for 5:00 p.m. EST on Saturday afternoon, and those in Canada can watch on TSN. Alternatively, you can stream the match using ESPN+ subscription ($), which gives you access to all MLS games this season.

For the first time this year, live from BMO Field, Brady Reid will have your Game Thread up right here before the match, so make sure you come ready to chime in.