Toronto FC-New York City FC Preview
With little time to savor a victory that put them atop the Eastern Conference, frontrunners New York City FC look to extend their franchise-record winning streak to six matches Wednesday night when they host Toronto FC.
The short-handed Bronx Blues (15-5-8) rallied past New England on Saturday, getting a brace from substitute Jesus Medina. The Paraguayan striker slotted a match-winning penalty in the 96th minute after Alexandru Mitrita was fouled as NYCFC moved two points ahead of Philadelphia with six matches to play while owning a game in hand on the Union.
"Maxi (Moralez), asked me if I was confident and I told him I was. I needed it and I think he knows that, and so he gave me the opportunity and I'm happy I was able to get the winning goal," said Medina, whose lone goal this season before Saturday came against Seattle on July 3.
"It was a very important victory. We're conscious we can finish in first. We had to win at home, and we were able to do it. It was a hard-fought victory, but we're a few games away from our goal which is to finish in first place."
NYCFC coach Dome Torrent dressed only 17 players due to international commitments, injuries and suspensions, and he will again be without first-choice striker Heber. The Brazilian is expected to miss at least three more weeks with a quad injury, which leaves the scoring duties mainly to playmaking midfielder Moralez and striker Valentin Castellanos.
The good news is keeper Sean Johnson should be between the sticks after he was released from the U.S. national team following Friday's 3-0 loss to Mexico. Johnson was on the bench Saturday, but the NYCFC No. 1 had made 17 saves while conceding three goals in the first four victories of their current winning streak.
Toronto FC (11-10-8) is sixth in the East table on 41 points, trailing the Red Bulls on the wins tiebreaker and four points clear of eighth-place Montreal with five matches remaining. The Reds took care of business and stretched their unbeaten streak to five (2-0-3) with a 5-1 thumping of FC Cincinnati on the road Saturday.
Marky Delgado had a goal and an assist in a three-goal outburst in the first half-hour that effectively ended the contest. Michael Bradley and Nicolas Benezet added second-half markers as Toronto set a season high in goals and has taken five points from its last three road contests (1-0-2).
"We held on to the ball well, made it difficult for them to get pressure on us, we stayed fairly disciplined on the night. The ball moved fast. We created chances. When they were high, we were looking to get behind them," TFC coach Greg Vanney told the club's official website. "We are continuing to build off a good stretch of games. ... When you get on top of games like we were able to today, then spaces open up a little bit more and then it's a question of if you can keep hurting them.
"This is a big three points for us. We keep rolling."
Defender Eriq Zavaleta will miss this game after being sent off in the 88th minute for his second booking, with both yellow cards coming in 17 minutes after entering as a second-half substitute.
Top scorer and striker Jozy Altidore is questionable for this match after being held out of Saturday's win with a thigh injury. The U.S. international has 10 goals in just 17 matches, including five to go with two assists in his last eight appearances.
Altidore scored the opener, and Alejandro Pozuelo bagged a brace in his MLS debut - highlighted by a Paneka for his first goal - as TFC ran out easy 4-0 winners in the reverse fixture March 29.
Updated September 9, 2019