New York City FC are in MLS is Back Tournament Round of 16 action vs. Toronto FC on Sunday night.
Here’s the Keys to the Match, presented by Ford…
In it to Win it
While NYCFC needed favors to get here, you can bet that the Boys in Blue are motivated to take advantage of the good fortune enjoyed through the final round of group stage play.
In the anxious days following City’s 1-0 win over Inter Miami, Ronny Deila and his players watched as a series of results went our way, climaxing in the incredible scenes at the end of LA Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo.
Cristian Pavon’s penalty was the decisive goal in the end, securing NYC’s passage to the Round of 16 as the final of four third-place Wild Card qualifiers.
By the skin of our teeth, yes, but now we’re here you get the sense that this squad now has a big point to prove against familiar foes…
Paying it Back
The final moments of 2019’s Eastern Conference semifinal vs. Toronto FC might just be the toughest moment in our short history given the best-ever regular season we had enjoyed and the fact that City were in the ascendancy after Isi’s late equalizer.
After one unsuccessful regular season attempt to inflict payback in March, now Anton Tinnerholm and his teammates are eager to throw it back to TFC in a knockout match as the page turns to a unique chapter in this new but heated rivalry: “Revenge is the right word here,” he told reporters.
"When we started preseason, we still didn’t forget about the playoffs. When it mattered the most, we weren’t there. Of course we want to take revenge from last year.”
Ronny’s job for Sunday will be to channel this emotion and ensure that the intensity is underpinned with discipline and big game intelligence – especially crucial in knockout matches of this nature.
The four-month suspension in the season couldn’t have been good for any team’s chemistry or cohesiveness, but it did give a new Head Coach in a new league an opportunity to study new opponents and past NYCFC encounters to learn more about his squad.
On Toronto specifically, Deila said: “The most important is stopping their attacking play.
“If you can stop them from creating overloads and getting too far into the attacking third, then the attacking players won't get the chance to get the ball where they want it.
“It's about working hard and not letting them get what they want. The game against Toronto (in March) we didn't play good enough, so now we have a chance to do better. It's a good test for where we stand now."
Seize the Day
Ronny reported that there were no new injury concerns coming into the match, with Héber and Maxi Moralez both in contention again after their issues limiting their involvement in Orlando so far.
Scoring goals has been the main issue for City at ESPN Wide World of Sports so far, but with Alexandru Mitriță also returning to full fitness and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi fit and firing (and with an impressive knack of scoring vs. TFC), New York certainly carries a threat, even if we haven’t seen it consistently in Florida just yet.
Against a team with dangerous offensive weapons of their own, NYCFC know they’re at their best when dictating tempo and making attack their best form of defense.
Deila has spoken of an “outsider mentality” needed to get the W on Sunday, but that doesn’t mean a lack of attacking ambition or bunkering in – only that City must exceed Toronto’s desire in the game’s duels and then trust that we have the quality and magic in the boxes to get the job done.
Let’s get it, New York.
Watch NYCFC vs. Toronto FC live on FS1 at 8:30PM ET or listen in English or Spanish at NYCFC.com/Radio.