New York City Football Club travel to BMO Field to take on Toronto FC this Saturday.
Hi John, thanks for speaking with us. How long have you been covering Toronto with TFC Republic?
I’ve been covering Toronto FC since Day 1, but with TFC Republic since the start of the 2021 MLS season.
What has been your highlight in that time?
Ha, well, there haven’t been too many highlights, as the Reds have suffered through back-to-back losing seasons. The 4-0 home win over Charlotte last summer was pretty special, though - it marked the MLS debuts of Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi, and TFC showed flashes of its awesome attacking potential in that game. The opening 45 minutes was the best half of football they’ve played in the last two years.
What are your thoughts on the team’s start to the season?
It’s been about what I expected from a team that is in the midst of a rebuilding process that started last year and underwent a lot of roster changes this off-season. Defensively, the team is much improved. That was its biggest problem in 2022. But the attack had lacked mediocre, and the team’s forwards have only combined for one goal through the first nine matches. With Lorenzo Insigne back after a lengthy injury absence, it’ll be interesting to see if the goals start to flow more freely.
What are your hopes for the 2023 season?
After failing to make the post-season the last two years, fans are hungry to see TFC back in the playoffs. I just want to cover a playoff game in person, as it’s been a while.
What do you think will be the deciding factor in Saturday's game?
I think it could come down to goalkeeping, so I can envision Sean Johnson being called upon to come up big against his former club. TFC gave up four goals last week in the loss to Philly. None of them were Johnson’s fault, but I suspect he’s eager to have a big bounce-back effort against NYCFC.
And for any fans that might be in Toronto for the game are there any spots you'd suggest they check out?
Forno Cultura on King Street. It’s an Italian cafe/bakery/grocery store with amazing stuff. All the bread, pizzas, sandwiches, and pastries are made in-house. Smoque N’ Bones on Queen Street is a fantastic southern BBQ joint. Kensington Market is my favorite place in the city. It’s this small neighborhood that is so vibrant. It really symbolizes Toronto’s greatest strength: Its cultural diversity.
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