On Sunday, NYCFC returns to action in the Bronx after the international break and face Eastern Conference foe Toronto FC. Sunday will be City’s first match since Patrick Vieira’s departure to Nice, giving us our first look at new manager Domenec Torrent at the helm. Midseason managerial changes are known to ignite talented sides in world football, and NYCFC will look to do just that in front of its home supporters on Sunday.
I believe that the departure of Patrick Vieira will be coupled with a departure of Jo Inge Berget from the Starting XI. There is certainly a chance that NYCFC decides to line up in the 3-5-2 that caused serious problems for Atlanta United before the break, but I believe they will revert back to the 4-3-3 of old. With Jo Inge Berget hitting the bench, Jesus Medina should start on the left, allowing him to cause serious problems with his strong left foot. Jonathan Lewis may also start after a great performance against Atlanta, and with a new chance to crack the weekly team sheet. With two weeks to nurse his injury, I also believe that Maxime Chanot will reclaim his starting spot next to defensive partner Alexander Callens.
Unbeaten in their last five league matches and in their last seven at home (6-0-1), NYCFC will look to prove to the fans that they are a team that can overcome coaching adversity and make a run for the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup.
Toronto FC: LLDWD
An incredibly disappointing start to the season, which included just two goals scored in their first five matches, has placed Toronto in a position where every point counts. Toronto has begun to turn back to their usual ways in their last three matches however, including a 2-0 win against Philadelphia and a 4-4 draw against DC United.
The last time these clubs met was just under a year ago in Toronto, which ended in a thrashing of NYCFC 4-0. Instead of recapping that contest, I will look to just eleven days prior, where NYCFC and Toronto drew 2-2 in the Bronx. Toronto opened the scoring in the eleventh minute, and Sean Johnson stood on his head for the remainder of the first half, allowing David Villa to score an outside of the foot equalizer from just outside the eighteen yard box just before halftime. Maxi Moralez scored in the 55’ after beautiful service from David Villa, giving NYCFC the 2-1 lead. Heartbreak ensued for your boys in blue, however, when RJ Allen gave away a penalty in extra time, which was slotted away by Victor Vazquez, ending the match 2-2.
NYCFC: Alex Ring
Whether lining up as a sweeper in the back, a defensive rock in the midfield, or a box to box, fans have come to expect nothing less than amazing performances week in and week out from Alexander Ring. The Finnish midfielder knows how to deal with a coaching change, after seeing five coaches in a five year span while playing in Germany. His presence on and off the pitch will be instrumental in not only organization for the boys in blue, but motivation as well. Last Week, Ring was excellent, putting together a performance that deserved Man of the Match Honors.
Toronto FC: Sebastian Giovinco
Who else could the spotlight be on? Sebastian Giovinco has scored 7 goals in 5 matches at Yankee Stadium, including a playoff hat-trick in 2016. Although having a down year thus far, Giovinco still ranks fifth in MLS with 10.59 xG+xA this season, sitting just above David Villa. Fourth in the league in shots on target, Seba is a great candidate to raise his goal tally from only three and propel TFC back to the playoffs.
Goals: David Villa (8), Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (7), Maxi Moralez (6)
Assists: Maxi Moralez (6), Jesus Medina (5), , David Villa (4)
Home Goals: David Villa (5)
Goals: Jonathan Osorio (5), Victor Vazquez (4), Sebastian Giovinco (3)
Assists: Sebastian Giovinco (7), Victor Vazquez (6), Jonathan Osorio and Michael Bradley (2)
Away Goals: Sebastian Giovinco (2)
Follow Nick Fiorino on Twitter at @stretch_fio and The Third Rail at @ThirdRailSC. Interested in learning more about the Third Rail? Visit our website at thirdrail.nyc for merchandise, weekly game previews and more. Interested in joining? Click here.
Watch NYCFC v Toronto on YES Network at 5:00 ET or Listen on WNYE 91.5 FM