NYCFC vs Toronto FC preview: Saying hi to an old friend

NYCFC / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, New York City FC will travel north of the border and visit Toronto FC for another Eastern Conference match-up.  The Pigeons have had some notable games in the past against the red team, and this is another fixture that is always destined to be memorable.  The team will also reunite with the former captain, Sean Johnson, who made the move to Canada after his contract expired.

When NYCFC traveled to Toronto last season, the match was highlighted by a controversial VAR decision, where a given penalty kick to the Bronx side was taken away.  It was later deemed the wrong decision, and the Professional Referee Organization said the penalty kick should have never been reviewed.  Unfortunately, that somewhat set the pace for the remainder of the game, and NYCFC lost 2-1.

However, the Pigeons also had a crazy home fixture in 2022, where they won 5-4 after being down 2-0.  The back and forth affair was highlighted by poor defense and great goals.  Based on last year alone, it can be expected that Saturday’s game will be a wild ride, regardless of the two teams’ standings in the Eastern Conference. 

Therefore, let’s take a look at the preview of NYCFC in Toronto. 

When is the match between New York City FC and Toronto FC?

The match will take place on Saturday, April 29, at 7:30 PM.

Where is the NYCFC game?

The game will take place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada at BMO Field.

Where can fans watch the NYCFC game?

Fans can catch NYCFC on Apple TV via the MLS Season Pass. 

What can New York City FC expect from Toronto FC?

New York City FC can expect a talented Toronto FC side that is somewhat struggling.  At this moment, the Canadian side sits in 12th place, and has won only once so far this season.  With that being said, they have become Draw FC, and have six draws in nine matches.  They are able to compete with other teams, but also give up goals.  In fact, they are coming off of a 4-2 loss against the Philadelphia Union.  With all of that being said, it can be expected that the team will come out looking to score.

Toronto has some talented goal-scorers as well.  For starters, Lorenzo Insigne will likely be the biggest threat, regardless of the fact he has lost playing time due to injury.  He played in only three matches so far in 2023, but scored in the loss to Philadelphia, which was his first start since he left injured in the opening fixture.  The natural winger is a goal scoring threat though, and has scored about 188 goals in his career thus far.  Since joining Toronto last summer, he has seven goals overall. 

But Insigne is a creative player too, and will create chances for his teammates.  It helps that he often has his fellow Italian, Federico Bernardeschi, for the winger is another scoring threat for Toronto.  He has three goals this season, and likely will continue to add to his tally.  Additionally, his dribbling and passing abilities aid in Toronto’s movement up the pitch, and then also in their offensive effort.  The two Italians are players to watch, for if NYCFC can shut them down, then leaving with all three points will be possible.

More importantly, the Pigeons will reunite with Johnson.  The former player left in the offseason on a free transfer, for his contract expired, and no deal was able to be reached.  However, supporters will always appreciate what he did for the club, especially during the 2021 MLS Cup Championship.  The goalkeeper is beloved, and it will be nice to see him again.  As always, once the clock starts for those 90 minutes, Johnson will become an enemy, for his is playing for the wrong side after all.  So expect either a fantastic performance from Johnson, for he wants to beat his old team, or expect a disaster, for he has not been as great since joining Toronto. 

Which NYCFC player should supporters watch?

NYCFC supporters should watch Luis Barraza during Saturday’s match.  The new number one has steadily improved as the season progressed, and he is playing better with his feet game in and game out.  It might not be to the required level that is expected from a City Football Group goalkeeper, but he continues to grow, so it is difficult to complain. 

In addition, the pressure might be on for Barraza to out-play his former teammate.  He spent his first two season as the third choice goalkeeper with NYCFC, and then was the number two under Johnson in 2021 and 2022.  As a result, not only does he want to prove that he has grown, but he will also want to make a statement to say he is just as good between the sticks. 

Moreover, he had seven saves in the game against FC Dallas.  He kept NYCFC in the match during that first half, and almost kept Dallas off of the score sheet.  If Barraza can play to the level he played last weekend, then Toronto will have a big problem on their hands.

What is the prediction for New York City FC?

New York City FC is looking for their first away win of the season, and what better place to grab all three points than BMO Field.  Historically, it is a difficult place to play for them, and there have been some controversial games there. 

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Nonetheless, Toronto has not played their best football, but also have six draws this season.  Hence, the Pigeons will continue to score, but the fixture will end in a 2-2 draw, with both goalkeepers making crazy saves to keep the score level.