Toronto FC have never won a league match at Yankee Stadium, though they’re bullish on their chances as they visit New York City FC for another crucial clash in the Eastern Conference playoff race on Wednesday evening (7 pm ET | TSN 4/5 — Full TV & streaming info).
It’s a meeting of two of the East’s hottest teams, with conference-leading NYCFC riding a five-game winning streak and TFC 3-1-3 in their last seven dating back to late July, and sure to be an emotional occasion in the Bronx on the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attack on the World Trade Center.
“It’s going to be a big match, I think for both sides,” said Toronto center back Drew Moor on Tuesday. “We’re coming in with a very good mentality, we’re on a pretty good run of form ourselves and we feel like we play well at New York City. And against them we feel like we match up well.
“We’re going to have to start the game off with a lot of intensity, put a lot into it early, and let it take care of itself as it goes. But they have very good players, they’re playing – quietly – as good as anyone in the league, probably.”
While NYCFC are 2-0-3 all-time in home regular-season meetings with the Reds, there’s a glaring exception to that track record.
TFC thrashed the Cityzens 5-0 at Yankee Stadium in the second leg of their Eastern Conference Semifinals series back in 2016, a stunning rout of the higher-seeded side paced by a Sebastian Giovinco hat trick that ensured a 7-0 aggregate victory for the Canadians as they marched to that year’s MLS Cup final.
Moor was on the pitch for that result, one of the most one-sided games in MLS postseason history, and this week he spoke of the particular intensity of playing on Yankee Stadium’s compact pitch, where NYCFC have lost just once this season.
“It looks different, it feels different,” said the veteran. “It’s going to be tight, it’s almost like a bit of a fight at first, because you’re constantly close to other guys. It sounds weird but it’s true – physically, you’re always within touching distance of somebody else. So be ready for the physical battle and enjoy it.”
Moor also credited his squad – who currently sit in sixth place, just four points above the playoff line – for their recent emphasis on “grinding a little bit” as they seek to smooth out the costly inconsistency that’s bedeviled them for much of 2019.
“It’s been a bit more up and down than we would like,” he admitted. “Over the course of a long season [something] you forget about sometimes in MLS is just how much of a grind it can be. It doesn’t always have to be perfect, in fact it’s very rarely going to be perfect, and that’s OK, as long as we’re going in giving ourselves chances to win games and pick up points whenever possible.”