On Sunday night Toronto FC will take the field at Yankee Stadium for their first meeting of the season with New York City FC. NYCFC, boasting Toronto FC killer David Villa among their squad, will be playing their first match under new manager Domènec Torrent. Following Patrick Vieira’s departure to Nice, Torrent takes over on Sunday after winning the Premier League with Manchester City, and was one of Pep Guardiola’s assistant managers for the past 11 years.
Toronto FC needed the international break (for the beginning of the World Cup) more than anyone. Their lengthy CONCACAF Champions League run, as well as the fact that they have been plagued by injuries in recent times, meant that TFC have been unable to field a top squad. Chris Mavinga, Jozy Altidore, Drew Moor and Ashtone Morgan are all out injured still, but the return of Justin Morrow is a huge benefit to the side.
For this match I predict that Greg Vanney will use the 4-1-4-1 formation he used against D.C. United in TFC’s last match. The formation allows the Reds to defend against the front three of David Villa, Maxi Moralez and Jo Inge Berget (if he ever starts playing at the level he is capable of), as well as attack the NYC defenders.
Earlier this week Toronto FC announced that Bono has signed a contract that will keep him in Toronto for years to come. This news is obviously incredible for Toronto FC and the fans that pack BMO Field every week, but it comes as a surprise as well. While it has become clear that Toronto FC wanted to re-sign him, and that Bono wanted to stay, he was attracting offers from some of the top leagues in Europe that surely caught his attention.
Auro, Gregory van der Wiel, Nick Hagglund, Justin Morrow
With the aforementioned return of Justin Morrow, Toronto FC can return to one of their strongest back fours. When Chris Mavinga returns from injury, TFC will either return to a formation with three centre-backs and two wingbacks, or they will drop Nick Hagglund from the starting 11. Hagglund has been in good form recently, however, so a back three seems potentially more likely. The American was named in the MLS Team of the Week after his last performance, a match which saw him steal a point from D.C. United after a pair of late equalizers on either side of a Yamil Asad goal. He scored in the 86th and 92nd minutes and the passion he showed after his goals was an amazing sight after a brutal match.
Michael Bradley, Nicolas Hasler, Victor Vazquez, Ager Aketxe, Jonathan Osorio
Ager Aketxe is another player returning from injury. The Spaniard has not lived up to the hype thus far in his Toronto FC career, and he will be hoping to finally score his first Toronto FC goal. If he can play up to his potential, he can form a dangerous midfield alongside Victor Vazquez and the player who many see as TFC’s Most Valuable Player this season, Jonathan Osorio. Oso has already tied his career high for league goals (5), and won the Golden Boot in the Champions League earlier in the year.
Once again, Sebastian Giovinco caused quite a stir on social media this week. Giovinco, no stranger to setting the Toronto FC faithful alight with emojis, posted a picture of himself waving, and many fans assumed that he was telling them that he was leaving the club. He has made it very clear that he wants to sign a new contract here in Toronto, but talks between him and the club seem to be stalling. He later announced that he isn’t leaving, but for a few days had everyone worried about a potential departure. With any luck, Giovinco can bring some of this confidence to the pitch and lead his side to three extremely important points at Yankee Stadium, like he has done before: