When Toronto FC and New York City FC last met back in June it felt like there was a considerable difference in quality between the two sides, even though NYC only won by a goal, 2-1. That result had flattered injury-decimated TFC, with the shots 18-10, including 8-2 on target, in favour of the hosts at Yankee Stadium who woke up after falling behind 1-0. Only a massive effort from goalkeeper Alex Bono prevented a rout that day in the sweltering conditions. It was the start of a dire time for the Reds, the first of three straight losses and part of a six-game winless run that threatened to all but end the club’s season only halfway through the campaign.
However, much has changed since then, with Toronto, still a bit battered by injuries, but looking much more like last year’s powerhouse, running off a three-game unbeaten streak in league play, which includes two victories and last weekend’s inspiring draw with MLS-leading Atlanta United in Georgia. TFC entered the weekend only six points back of New England and Montreal, who were tied for the final two playoff spots in the East (both played in separate matches on Saturday night).
Toronto will miss defender Chris Mavinga (suspended for two games for inexplicable reasons) for Sunday’s rematch with NYC (4 p.m. ET, TSN4), as well as fellow backline starter Auro, who hurt himself during Wednesday’s draw at Vancouver, but could finally get back another key defender in Drew Moor, who has been out since tearing his quad in April.
Moor, one of the mainstays and leaders of last year’s stifling defensive squad has been training with the club and head coach Greg Vanney was hopeful that Moor would get in at least a bit of work on Sunday at BMO Field.
“I’m not quite sure how long just yet, but we’ll see. Hopefully he gets back into the mix this week,” Vanney told reporters after training on Friday.
Since Mavinga and Auro returned to the lineup Toronto has been a different team defensively, far stingier and harder to play against, but Auro is now re-injured and Mavinga got a two game ban for retaliating after Atlanta’s Miguel Almiron appeared to spit on him late in last Saturday’s draw. Moor’s potential return at least gives Vanney another option and a great communicator, though New York is not an ideal team to face coming off of a long layoff, considering the team is exceptionally quick and generates a lot of chances (though both factors are less apparent when the Pigeons hit the road).
“Of all of our centre backs, he’s the one that is the most vocal in terms of communication, leadership, (providing) information to guys around him,” Vanney said.
“In terms of leading the line, he’s the guy with the most experience, and the most comfort level of being outside of himself and getting everybody on the same page and working together as a group.”
Moor was originally slated to re-enter the lineup a week or two ago, but suffered a setback in his recovery.
When he first got back on the field for partial training he discussed how tough it was to be sidelined for a significant period for the first time in his long career, which stretches all the way back to his debut with FC Dallas in 2005.
Moor tore his ACL in 2014, but didn’t actually have to sit out too many matches because it happened right near the end of the season, giving him the off-season to heal up.
Moor was in “disbelief” when he tore his quad in a training session in Mexico in late-April.
“Just went to make a fairly simple pass across my body with the inside of my foot, it’s something that I’ve done 1,000 times and for whatever reason, this time my quad says I wasn’t going to do it without a fair amount of (resistance) and I felt it right away,” Moor told us back in early-July.
The 34-year-old tried to convince the training staff that it was just a cramp, but they told him right away that it was something significant.
Surgery would have meant six months off, so Moor avoided that route and is ready to go after nearly four months of recovery.
New York City FC (13-5-5, third in Eastern Conference) at Toronto FC (6-11-5, 9) 4 p.m. TSN4
NYC won 2-1 at Yankee Stadium in June in previous meeting.
Star forward David Villa left with an injury in first half of that game and has missed the next seven contests, but is expected to return on Sunday.
Villa still leads the club with eight goals and has scored seven times in eight regular season meetings with Toronto, though six of them came in the first three.
TFC will be without suspended defender Chris Mavinga.
Midfielder Maximiliano Moralez is second in MLS with 12 assists, while Toronto’s Sebastian Giovinco is tied for third with 11 and has six goals in eight meetings with NYC.
Deadline day acquisition Lucas Janson is not yet with the club, but fellow newcomer Jon Bakero could see his first action.
Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies