Toronto FC-Red Bulls Preview
Toronto's Supporters' Shield fate is out of their hands as they visit New York Red Bulls, but coach Greg Vanney is just happy to still be in the chase.
TFC are level with Philadelphia Union on points per game, points and wins but trail the leaders by some distance on goal difference heading into Decision Day.
The Union must drop points for Toronto to realistically have a chance of claiming their second Shield.
Yet Vanney's side are in a far better position than they were prior to last weekend when Toronto beat Inter Miami while Philly lost to Columbus Crew.
"(There were) a couple of results before that we wish we would have had back," Vanney said. "Then it was going to be gutting it out and doing whatever you have to do to get (a win).
"That keeps us alive, puts a little pressure on Philly to have to get a result. We're chasing them.
"We'll go out, on the road, and we're going to try to get a result and we'll see what happens in the other games."
The Red Bulls have less pressing immediate concerns, although they could still avoid the play-in round with a win, but Gerhard Struber has a long-term vision.
"We have to work when I come to New York, especially in our structure, especially I think more in details," he said.
"I can see a team with very good shape, with very good motivation, with a good mood on the field.
"I think this is the most important thing, and for the tactical side, this is my responsibility that players know what I want in a game. But I think I have a good feeling.
"I'm looking forward to bringing my experience from the tactical side to the players, then I hope for better results, for constantly better results."
New York Red Bulls - Caden Clark
Clark, 17, burst onto the scene with two goals in his first two MLS games in October, earning widespread praise. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the teenager has since struggled to sustain his performances at the same level. On the bench last time out, he will want to remain a key part of the Red Bulls' plans going into the postseason.
Toronto - Ayo Akinola
One young star who has managed to perform consistently this year is Toronto's Akinola. The forward has nine goals in 10 starts, netting on his return to the side against Inter Miami. Vanney will want the 20-year-old in top form heading into the playoffs.
- Toronto have won only two of their 16 regular season away matches against the Red Bulls (D2 L12), although they did win a playoff match at Red Bull Arena in 2017. The Red Bulls have recorded 2-0 wins over Toronto in each of their past two home matches against the Reds since that playoff defeat.
- The Red Bulls saw their five-match unbeaten run (W2 D3) ended with a 5-2 loss at New York City on Sunday. The Red Bulls had conceded just four total goals over their five-match streak before shipping five to NYCFC.
- Toronto's 44 points through 22 matches are the most they have ever had at this stage of a season (next best 43 points in 2017). A point from their final match would leave them with their best 23-match start to a season in club history (beating 44 points in 2017).
- Alexander Ring's strike from distance for NYCFC against the Red Bulls on Sunday was the eighth goal New York have conceded from outside the penalty area this season, two more than any other team in MLS.
- Alejandro Pozuelo enters Decision Day with 18 direct goal involvements (nine goals, nine assists) and 19 total goal involvements (one secondary assist), one ahead of Diego Rossi (14 goals, three primary assists, one secondary assist) on both counts. He could become the third TFC player to lead the league in either category after Sebastian Giovinco (2015 and 2016) and Dwayne De Rosario (2011) led the league in both.
Updated November 6, 2020