Toronto FC has a sense of urgency. New York City FC has a better sense of the tactical approach of its new coach.
It is a pair of factors that could provide thrills and inspiration when the Eastern Conference rivals meet at BMO Field in Toronto on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET.
“For me, since I’ve been a coach with New York City that was the best performance,” NYCFC coach Dome Torrent said following a 2-2 draw versus Vancouver last weekend.
Torrent is now 5-2-1 through eight matches since replacing Patrick Vieira.
“In the end it was a draw but I’m happier after the last game than the win (2-0) at Orlando,” he said. “If you want to create a style in New York City I prefer to play like the last game.”
New York City owned the ball for 73 percent of the game and attacked with a purpose, forcing 13 corner kicks compared to two for the Whitecaps and finishing with 22 shots.
TFC tied Vancouver by the identical score (2-2) in the first leg of the Canadian Championship Wednesday in British Columbia.
The Reds have managed just one regular-season victory over NYCFC in eight games played – a 4-0 triumph at BMO last July. It was a loss that prompted Vieira to concede that his side did not compare to TFC.
“I think when you look at the game and their roster, we still have a long way to go,” Vieira said. “There is still a gap. We couldn’t perform because they were too good for us. As simple as that.”
Toronto FC advanced to their second consecutive MLS Cup and won their initial MLS title last season. Like fellow 2017 finalist Seattle, TFC (6-11-5) struggled in 2018.
Advancing to the finals of the CONCACAF Champions League coupled with injuries to vital parts has resulted in a ninth-place standing and six points shy of a playoff spot in the conference.
Recent results have been promising with the sweep of a home-and-home series with the Chicago Fire and a 2-2 draw at Mercedes-Benz Stadium against the Supporters Shield favorites, Atlanta United.
“Toronto for now are the champions of MLS – never forget it,” Torrent said. “Maybe now they are in the best moment. They are much better than they were two weeks ago even.”
Torrent’s first match as the NYCFC manager came less than 48 hours after he arrived from Girona, Spain, edging TFC 2-1 at Yankee Stadium June 24.
Toronto FC played that match without stalwart striker Jozy Altidore, who is expected to start Sunday.
New York City FC (13-5-5) may be without goalkeeper Sean Johnson for a second straight match. Johnson jammed his shoulder in training prior to the Vancouver contest and is listed as questionable.
Brad Stuver replaced Johnson against the Whitecaps and will make his second NYCFC appearance and third overall in MLS if Johnson has not healed.
“Right now we have to wait,” Torrent said after Wednesday’s training session. “Brad had a good performance against Vancouver so I am confident in Brad.”
David Villa, who shares the team lead with eight goals despite missing 10 matches including the last seven, is fully fit and available.
And the squad Torrent selects will endeavor to reveal that the chasm from a season ago has narrowed or even fused.