Photo credit: Lucas Kschischang/Toronto FC

Toronto FC faces New York City FC at Yankee Stadium at 7:30 p.m., a New York team that is trying to get their first win of the season after scoring their only goal a week ago. 

On paper, it looks like an easy game for TFC, but they have to be prepared for this tricky game, even more so without Nicksoen Gomis.

The former Sheffield United player has joined Richie Laryea (thigh) and Sean Johnson (hamstring) on the injury list after undergoing surgery on his left wrist. He will be out for at least four weeks. 

The French player was one of the best players on defence for Toronto FC over the past two games and helped head coach John Herdman’s system by joining the attack. 

“Big lesson for us is you’re gonna manage those players the following week and make sure to give them a chance to reset,” Herdman said when asked if these injuries came from playing on turf against New England. 

New York City FC has scored only one goal in three games, but this is still a tricky game for TFC. The Boys In Blue lost 1-2 against Portland. However, they were constantly on the attack and had good pressure on Portland’s side of the pitch. 

NYCFC how to create chances from the wings with their fast-paced passing game. The problem for them currently is they aren’t capable—for now—of turning these chances into goals.

How to avoid the upset

The first problem they need to assess once again is the attack. Toronto’s lack of a good no. 9 is making the team become “Insigne dependent.”

This is a big problem for the Reds. Looking over the last season, they were the worst attacking team, and Herdman still needs to resolve the issue. 

TFC can’t depend on a spectacular goal by their star player week in and week out if your player is not named Lionel Messi. Herdman has time to find a solution, and this match is a good one to experiment.

The pace of NYCFC has been the hallmark of their previous match so far this season. But this style can create a lot of chances for the opposition. Most of the chances against New York City have come from losing the ball in the middle of the field. 

Given that Toronto has been good at recovering balls in the same area, it is something that can capitalize on. 

The main concern for Toronto has to be to translate these occasions into goals. And they need this to come from players other than Insigne as no team can can survive off goals from only one player over the long term. 

“We were prepared to win ugly,” Herdman said, referring to the game against Charlotte. In this case, they can turn the table and get a pretty win. 

The wall against the goal

The Toronto defence received another hit with the Gomis loss, but the next-man-up mentality that Herdman talked about after the Charlotte game can be the answer. 

This week, Herdman said he was happy to give spots to other players during the preseason to show what they could do. This will give him an idea of who can slot in for injury situations such as this, as well as for international windows where certain players are gone.

Herdman has shown he can make rotations in his system before and during the game and still make it work. Playing in the manner Toronto has so far can help to stop New York City’s constant attacks from the wings by always being numerically superior. 

The main concern for TFC’s defence will be the Uruguayan Santiago Rodríguez. But TFC already stopped former MVPs Carles Gil and Luciano Acosta. Herdman will have to display the same tactic to slow down the pace of Rodríguez.