Dome Torrent looks on
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Dome Torrent wary of in-form Toronto FC: "They improved a lot"

ORANGEBURG, N.Y. — Dome Torrent’s first game in charge as New York City FC coach was against Toronto FC on June 24.

NYCFC overran the Reds in the second half en route to a tidy 2-1 win at Yankee Stadium that Sunday afternoon.

Seven games and seven weeks later, Torrent knows he’ll see a different – and much-improved – Toronto FC side Sunday (4 pm ET | ESPN, TSN4 -  Full TV & Streaming info) at BMO Field.

Torrent lauded TFC’s ability to switch formations, highlighting the move from a 5-3-2 in the first half of a 2-2 draw at Atlanta United last Saturday to a 4-4-2 with a diamond in the midfield.

“They can play in different ways. Toronto for now is the champions of MLS, never forget it,” Torrent said after training . “I respect a lot this team and their coach because he was the best manager last year. That means, it’s a top team for me. It’s not easy to play the Concacaf [Champions League] and after that the MLS. But maybe right now they are in the best moment because they improved a lot. They changed some players and I think right now they are much better than, I don’t know, two weeks ago.”

Indeed, the loss in the Bronx was the first of three consecutive defeats as part of a six-match winless streak for Toronto. But they’ve gotten healthy and are unbeaten in six games across all competitions heading into Sunday’s critical showdown.

Toronto (6-11-5) are still six points below the playoff line in the Eastern Conference, but that’s inconsequential to NYCFC midfielder Alex Ring.

“You can’t look at the table where they were standing because they still have the same team from last year. Plus they got maybe even better,” Ring told MLSsoccer.com. “For me, it’s not a question that they’re going to make the playoffs, it’s just about them trying to find a rhythm, trying to get in a rhythm and then for sure they’ll be title contenders.”

That meeting at Yankee Stadium was also the last time David Villa stepped on the field with the NYCFC captain limping off after 28 minutes with a right knee injury that has kept him sidelined for seven straight games.

A week ago, Torrent said Villa could have likely featured in the 2-2 draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC Saturday for at least “20-30 minutes,” though he was unavailable per MLS policy after missing the MLS All-Star Game. Torrent wasn’t as willing to put a numerical value next to Villa’s availability for Sunday. However, he’s trained fully since and it’s safe to assume he’ll be a candidate for the starting XI.

The last time NYCFC (13-5-5) was in Toronto, the Reds rolled to a 4-0 triumph last July. Circumstances are different for the two teams in 2018, with NYCFC in contention for the Supporters’ Shield, while Toronto FC are just looking to make the playoffs.

Still, with TFC’s current run of form and with NYCFC just four points behind Shield leaders Atlanta, Ring is excited about meeting Toronto at this point of the season.

“I feel comfortable where we are with the team right now,” Ring said. “The way we’re playing and the results haven’t been that bad, too, so I think we’re meeting them at the right time.”

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