In this edition of Oppo Research, Hudson River Blue looks at the strengths and weaknesses of a dysfunctional Toronto FC, New York City FC‘s opponent in tomorrow’s game at Red Bull Arena: Here is your NYCFC vs Toronto preview.
While NYCFC are coming off a dominant 2-0 win over Orlando City, Toronto suffered a 4-0 pummeling by an Inter Miami that played most of the game without Lionel Messi or Jordi Alba. New York City will try to build on the 5-0 win over Toronto at RBA in the Leagues Cup group stage — and put aside the 1-0 loss to Toronto at BMO Field in April.
1. Toronto are a dumpster fire of a team
Toronto sit rock-bottom of the Eastern Conference, even on points with the Colorado Rapids for the worst record in MLS. They have lost nine of their last ten games, with their only win a surprising 3-1 triumph over Philadelphia Union at the end of August. The club fired former head coach Bob Bradley in June, traded center back Matt Hedges to Austin FC in July, sent Canada intentional Richie Laryea to the Vancouver Whitecaps in August, and lost goalkeeper (and former NYCFC captain) Sean Johnson to a hand injury last month. Not only are the team unhappy, they’ve been dismantled, with many of their best players now gone.
2. No offense, poor defense
Toronto struggle on both sides of the ball. The offense only scored 24 goals, the second-lowest in the league, and they under-perform their xG of 27.4. The defense conceded 45 goals, which is the second-most in the Eastern Conference.
3. Lorenzo Insigne is still dangerous
The Italian winger might be the source of much of the discontentment on this team, but the former Napoli superstar could still make an impact on Saturday. Insigne has just four goals and five assists this season in his 17 starts, but the 32-year-old can use his pace to get in behind, and he remains a solid dribbler. NYCFC will need to prevent him from getting involved in the Toronto attack.
4. Road woes
Toronto have the worst road record of any team in MLS. They have not won a single away game in 14 played, with ten losses, four draws, and an abysmal goal differential of -21.
5. They have nothing to play for
Toronto are not yet officially eliminated from the postseason, but they will need some wildly improbable results from across the Eastern Conference if they are to sneak into the 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs: They would need to win all five remaining games, DC United would need to lose all of theirs, and NYCFC, Chicago Fire, Charlotte FC, and Inter Miami would all need to flame out.
In other words, the season is all but over for a Toronto that will miss the postseason for the third consecutive year.