TORONTO – It’s the biggest game in Toronto FC’s history – and it’s not the first time.
Toronto FC head to New York to take on the New York Red Bulls on Saturday (7 pm ET; UDN, TSN2, MLSsoccer.com Stream of the Week) in a must-win match as the club searches for a historic first playoff appearance.
But this isn’t the first time New York has stood in Toronto’s path. Back in 2009, Toronto FC needed just a draw in their season finale to make the postseason, but lost 5-0 to the Red Bulls.
This time around, Toronto FC have two more games remaining after New York, but the mission remains the same.
“What matters, ultimately, is the result,” TFC head coach Greg Vanney told reporters at training Friday.
Toronto FC also welcome back striker Gilberto, who missed the last match as a precautionary measure for a micro-tear in his hamstring. The team will need him, along with Jermain Defoe, Luke Moore and the rest of their attacking options, to take on a New York team that Vanney says can be beaten.
“It’s taken all year to get to this point, but in the most important match of the year we are at 100 percent,” Vanney said. “Gilberto is with us, and he will be in the 18 for sure. He could [start], but it’s just a matter of how many minutes we can get out of him. But he will definitely be available, and he will definitely play a role in the game tomorrow.”
“What I think would be our best defense would be to have a good attack against them because Henry doesn’t really love to defend much, which could leave their outside backs exposed,” Vanney said.
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Three points separate Toronto FC from the fifth-place Columbus Crew and final postseason spot in the Eastern Conference. TFC trail the Red Bulls by four.
Simply put, Toronto FC needs to win – or at the very least draw and watch for other results – to keep their playoff hopes alive.
“The group believes in what we have, and we’re, quite frankly, looking forward to this challenge,” Vanney said. “You play for these moments, where everything is on the line. That’s what tomorrow is all about.”