ORLANDO, Fla. – Toronto FC will face New York City FC on July 26 in the Round of 16. The winner advances and the loser being eliminated from the MLS is Back Tournament. The winner of the MLS is Back Tournament will earn a berth to the Concacaf Champions League.
Once again, there is a lot on the line between TFC and NYCFC. Both teams have already faced each other twice in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, where TFC eliminated NYCFC in 2016 and 2019. They also faced each other earlier this year at BMO Field. In that game, Toronto FC won 1-0 thanks to a goal by Ifunanyachi Achara, who will not play because of injury.
According to MLSsoccer.com, Achara of TFC is out for the rest of the season. Gedion Zelalem of NYCFC and Justin Morrow of TFC will most likely be out in the Round of 16 matchups. However, there is a chance that Jonathan Osorio of Toronto FC could play against New York City FC.
Toronto FC vs. New York City FC MiB Preview
Round of 16: Toronto FC
Toronto FC, winners of Group C showed everyone what they are capable of in-group play. The combination of Ayo Akinola and Alejandro Pozuelo was a big reason why TFC advanced to the knockout stage.
Last year, Alejandro Pozuelo scored two goals to upset NYCFC in the 2019 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. Richie Laryea played a big role in TFC on drawing that penalty shot that led to Pozuelo’s second goal. Furthermore, with the emergence of Ayo Akinola, TFC is a team to be reckoned with. Akinola has scored five of TFC’s six goals and Pozuelo has assisted in five of TFC’s six goals.
This is what TFC head coach Greg Vanney said about Akinola according to the Canadian Press:
“He has soft feet, he can hold things up but he’s so powerful and fast? He’s gotten himself fit, he worked incredibly hard in the pre-season. He just looks like he loves playing soccer. And all of that is coming out in his performances.”
The disrespect 😩…. too strong and a classy finish. 🔥🔥🔥 https://t.co/o19PudqcYH
— Jozy Altidore (@JozyAltidore) July 17, 2020
However, the main question mark for NYCFC is the possible impact of Jozy Altidore. Akinola and Altidore are both physically strong strikers. Furthermore, in the little time they were together, Altidore linked perfectly with Akinola in the New England Revolution game. This play almost led to a penalty shot.
86’ | Here. We. Go.
— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) July 21, 2020
TFC along with the Revs was the elite of Group C. Although TFC gave up a two-goal lead against D.C. United, they have never lost or trailed in a game.
Round of 16: New York City FC
The same cannot be said about New York City FC. They failed to score the first goal in their first two games. They also have not been clinical in front of the net. For example, against the Union, they had 18 shots, with nine of them on target, but none of them finding the back of the net.
NYCFC won against Inter Miami 1-0 to keep their hopes alive. However, they were fortunate to even make the Round of 16. Houston Dynamo was winning 1-0 late in Group F action on Thursday.
If that result stood, the Houston Dynamo and not New York City FC would advance to the knockout stage as one of the best four third-place teams. However, LA Galaxy was awarded a penalty and Cristian Pavón scored to give NYCFC a ticket to the Round of 16.
Big link up ⚽️ #ForTheCity
2️⃣8️⃣ 🤝 2️⃣9️⃣ pic.twitter.com/K52NHjfd9U
— New York City FC (@NYCFC) July 20, 2020
Another reason why NYCFC is going to the Round of 16 is because of Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, who scored against Inter Miami. Credit should also be given to Alexandru Mitriță, who lofted the pass to Tajouri-Shradi.
Lastly, Sean Johnson, who gave up four goals in NYCFC’s first two group stage games, was able to get the clean sheet against Inter Miami FC.
14. @SeanJohnGK on his toes early 👊
— New York City FC (@NYCFC) July 20, 2020
Yes, Toronto FC is the favourites, but New York City FC had more shots and shots on goal in two of their three games. Furthermore, NYCFC is motivated, this is what defender Anton Tinnerholm of NYCFC said on Tom Bogert’s article on mlssoccer.com.
“Revenge is the right word here,” defender Anton Tinnerholm told reporters on a video conference call Friday. “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.”
Overview of Round of 16 Match-Up: Toronto FC vs. New York City FC
According to oddschecker.com, Toronto FC are favoured to advance to the quarterfinals over New York City FC. This is unlike both the 2016 and 2019 Audi MLS Cup Playoff matchups where TFC were the underdogs against NYCFC.
However, this does not mean TFC should be caught off-guard. NYCFC had 64 points in the 2019 regular season. This was the second-most points by an MLS team and the most in the Eastern Conference. NYCFC is a good team and should not be taken likely. They are a decent side and a tough draw for Toronto FC.
They are also motivated after losing 1-0 earlier this year by Toronto FC and being eliminated in last year’s playoffs.
Moment: Three Times, Four Years
— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) October 24, 2019
Lastly, TFC has yet to put teams away. This was shown in both the Montreal Impact and D.C. United games. There is a chance for NYCFC to pull the upset. Maximiliano Moralez for example came back from injury in NYCFC’s last game against Inter Miami FC and Sebastian Ibeagha is cleared to rejoin the team according to nycfc.com.
However, it will be difficult. The game between Toronto FC and New York City FC will take place on July 26 at 8:30 PM eastern time.
The prediction for this game is that Toronto FC will win this game 3-2. Yes, NYCFC can score, but TFC has been in good form. Furthermore, the addition of Altidore will be too much to overcome. The winner of this Round of 16 will face the winner of the Portland Timbers and FC Cincinnati, which will take place on July 28 at 10:30 PM eastern time.
— New York City FC (@NYCFC) July 24, 2020