The New York Red Bulls travel north across the border this weekend for a critical clash with Eastern Conference leaders Toronto FC on Sunday. Toronto is currently two points clear of New York and has a game in hand, but a victory for the Red Bulls will see them gain sole possession of first-place in the conference.
Toronto FC vs. New York Red Bulls Preview
Late drama in their 1-0 CONCACAF Champions League victory over Alianza FC Thursday night had moments of frustration, but the club should find their confidence lifted after a hard-fought win.
“We talked about when we are in these games, these tight situations, to not back down and to go after the game the right way, and they absolutely did that”, head coach Jessse Marsch said after the contest.
The Red Bulls will want to keep that mentality going at BMO Field on Sunday against Toronto.
We look at key areas of interest heading into a matchup with major implications for the Eastern Conference playoff race.
The Red Bulls road form has not been exceptional (2-6-7), but they should take positives from recent matches. A 1-0 win in Canada against the Vancouver Whitecaps earlier this month helped to possibly prove to the team themselves that they can grind out a win away from home when needed.
A similar victory took place Thursday night at home against Alianza. New York should feel boosted from their ability to hang in matches and find what is needed for three points. The key will be finding a third road win on the season against a talented Toronto side.
Will Sebastian Giovinco play a part?
Sidelined by an injury the past few weeks, 2015 MLS MVP Sebastian Giovinco’s status is up in the air to take part in Sunday’s game. He has returned to training this week and may see his first action in almost a month.
Without Giovinco, manager Greg Vanney utilized a 4-4-2 diamond midfield formation instead of their normal 4-3-3. Relying on forward Jozy Altidore, Toronto was able to push up the field effectively and defeated the Chicago Fire on the road 2-1 last weekend.
Whether the Atomic Ant goes on Sunday or not, New York’s central defense will need to be prepared for Altidore and the Toronto attack.
Red Bulls captain Dax McCarty returned from injury at Vancouver two weeks ago, but perhaps came back a bit too soon. Having not featured since, McCarty is expected back in the New York lineup on Sunday for this important clash with Toronto.
Midfielder Felipe Martins has been a workhorse this season, and both he and McCarty will need to be prepared to slow down the Reds in the middle. Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio and Will Johnson have all been in fine form and can be dangerous going forward.
The defensive midfield for the Red Bulls will certainly be tested by a strong Toronto squad.
The Red Bulls current unbeaten run has now reached 14 across all competitions, and Marsch will undoubtedly have his team ready for a difficult encounter on Sunday.
New York’s road record, however, makes this victory tough to truly count on. The streak continues in an important draw away from home.
TORONTO FC 2-2 NEW YORK RED BULLS