In 2017, an interview with the Toronto Sun, Greg Vanney said that the two "big market Clubs 'could' turn into full blown rivals," when discussing the NYCFC-Toronto FC series. Toronto FC were founded in 2005 and began play in 2007 as the first Canadian team in MLS. They were never a strong team until new owners in 2013, Toronto began building a team that soon became treble winners in 2017 and CONCACAF Champions League finalists in 2018.
NYCFC and Toronto FC first met on June 20th, 2015, which NYCFC won 2-0. The first meeting at Yankee Stadium was played the following month which ended in a 4-4 tie, with four penalties, two for each team, both sides missed their first penalties, and there were five goals by half time. Finally, the third and final meeting of 2015 was at Yankee Stadium again on September 16th. Frank Lampard scored his first goal, and Patrick Mullins scored a header off a corner to give NYCFC another 2-0 win over the Reds. This game kept NYCFCs playoff hopes alive, but Toronto got that final playoff spot in 2015.
2016 comes around, and the first meeting (NYCFCs home opener) ended 2-2, with a few fouls, a controversial David Villa goal, which he quite clearly handled with his arm, but Toronto came from 2-0 down to get the tie. The final meeting between the two was a 1-1 tie at BMO Field, Kwadwo Poku scored a banger that game. The 2016 Regular Season ended, and NYCFC finished 2nd in the East with 54 points, Toronto finished 3rd in the East with 53 points. The two sides met in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in a massive game for both sides. It was NYCFCs first appearance in the playoffs, while it was Toronto's first appearance in that round of the playoffs. A tense first leg saw Toronto score two late goals and win 2-0, and a fight broke out after the final whistle between RJ Allen and Jozy Altidore. The return fixture in New York was one of the darkest days in NYCFCs short history, Toronto beat NYC 5-0 on the night, 7-0 on aggregate. To date, it is the largest margin of victory over two legs in the Playoffs.
2017 comes around, and NYCFC were Toronto's closest competitors for the Supporters Shield. The first meeting was a battle, with Toronto missing many key players due to the Gold Cup. Toronto scored early, but NYCFC managed to turn the deficit around and lead 2-1. The second NYC goal came after a disallowed Toronto goal after an offside appeal. Toronto got a late penalty which was converted by Victor Vazquez. Two weeks later, NYC visited Canada and lost 4-0 against a full strength TFC team, which to date is the only time Toronto have beaten NYCFC in the Regular Season. Toronto won the Treble, NYCFC stumbled over the line and managed to finish 2nd by the skin of their teeth.
2018 comes around, and despite no competition for position in the standings, NYCFC and Toronto played out to an eventful game in August at BMO Field. Going into the game, NYCFC needed to win to keep their Supporters Shield hopes alive, while Toronto needed a result to continue their momentum heading into a big final few months of the season. Jozy Altidore got a red card for kicking out at NYC defender Alex Callens. That tackle set the tone for the rest of the game, as tackles came flying in from both teams. During Heineken Rivalry, only the Hudson River Derby saw more fouls and cards handed out. David Villa put NYC into the lead only a few minutes later after the red card, but Giovinco replied 10 minutes after Villa scored. NYC went into half time with a 2-1 lead, but Victor Vazquez leveled the score minutes into the second half. Then, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi scored a banger in the final five minutes to win the game for NYC, and beat Toronto.
Is this a rivalry? I think there's something there for sure. Maybe a few more years for it to build, but there is definitely a consistent intensity about the series between NYCFC and Toronto FC that's unmatched by most other games. Toronto do have big rivalries with Montreal and Columbus, but, we could be enemy number three.
NYCFC are set to face off against Orlando City's Home Opener on March 2nd for the third time in five years, and back in 2015, MLS tried framing this series as a rivalry. Also, about a month ago, I had a series of polls on my Instagram asking other than the Red Bulls, who are NYCFCs biggest rivals, so I thought I'd write an overview of the third most voted rivalry out of the 7 selected teams, NYCFC and Orlando City joined MLS in 2015. Orlando had existed in the USL for a few years prior where they were the most successful team in the then third division, winning 3 out of a possible USL Championships. NYCFC were formed when Don Garber was in talks with a former Barca representative about a potential Miami team in 2008. Then there were talks about bringing the Cosmos to MLS which fell through the cracks. The Barcelona representative had since moved to Man City, and in 2013, it was announced that NYCFC would be the 20th MLS Franchise.
March 8th, 2015, Orlando City and NYCFC met on the opening day of the season. The game was broadcasted on ESPN. The game ended 1-1, with both goals coming in the final 15 minutes of the game. The second meeting was the most dramatic. July at Yankee Stadium, NYCFC and Orlando played out to a boring first half, with NYC going into half time with a 1-0 lead. The second half erupted with goals. Javier Calle, Tommy McNamara, Mix Diskerud and David Villa all scored, but a Cyle Larin hat trick left the final score at 5-3 win for NYCFC. The final meeting of 2015 was huge. Orlando had to win to keep their playoff hopes alive. What happened? Orlando came from behind to win 2-1. Orlando finished 7th in the East and 14th Overall, while NYCFC finished 8th in the East and 17th Overall.
2016 comes around, and NYCFC and Orlando meet three times again. The first meeting came at Yankee Stadium on Matchday 3, and Cyle Larin scored off his face within the opening 10 minutes to score the games only goal. Then the next meeting, NYCFC have a comfortable 2-0 lead at Yankee Stadium, but two unanswered goals by Orlando ended the game at 2-2. Finally, Jason Kreis coached his first game against NYCFC after getting fired, and Orlando ran away with a 2-1 win. That year NYCFC finished 2nd in the East and 4th Overall versus Orlando's 8th in the East and 15th Overall finish.
2017, Orlando's home opener is for their Soccer Specific Stadium was against NYCFC. The Lions won 1-0, and it looked to be the start of a great season for Orlando. NYCFC who were unbeaten for 11 straight home games dating back to 2016, hosted Orlando. Out of anyone, a Cyle Larin lead attack helped Orlando to a 2-1 win. Finally, in May of 2017, Orlando were unbeaten for six home games, notching 5 wins and a tie. NYCFC came to town, and the Boys in Blue had never won in Orlando, and had one win in eight meetings previously. Despite the record against them, NYCFC win 3-0 in a dramatic game. Orlando ended up finishing 10th in the East, and 18th Overall, while NYCFC finished 2nd in the East, and 2nd Overall.
2018 comes rolling in and NYCFC win all three meetings against Orlando, winning 7-0 within the three meetings. Orlando finished last in the East for a second straight year, and 22nd Overall. NYCFC finished 3rd in the East, 7th Overall.
This series doesn't show much animosity, and there is no bragging rights. While geographically and standings wise, it doesn't make sense. Orlando who appear desperate for a rival may want to maintain us as this OG rival, but, lets be serious, this is not a rivalry.
Season five starts up in about 66 days from now (December 26th, 2018). To be honest, I have a lot of questions on whether or not NYCFC can find upgrades yet again. Season five starts up against Orlando City on March 2nd, 2019, in Orlando for the third time in five years. Previous openers include a 1-1 tie in 2015, and a 1-0 loss in 2017. NYCFC and Orlando were pit as rivals in 2015, and it does feel great beating the lions, but NYCFC fans do not see this as a rivalry. New York City have won the last four meetings against Orlando by an aggregate score of 10-0, including 3-0 win in Orlando to become the first team to win in Orlando in 2017, and in 2018, NYC went to Orlando and won 2-0 thanks to goals by Maxi Moralez and Anton Tinnerholm. Despite NYCFC not winning yet on the opening day in Orlando, I'm fairly confident with recent results.
March 10th, NYCFCs home opener is hosting DC United for the second time in three years. They met in Week 2, which ended as a 4-0 New York City victory over the successful Eastern Conference Team. In four meetings at Yankee Stadium against DC, NYC are unbeaten with a record of 3-1-0 (W-D-L), outscoring United 11-4, scoring at least three goals in the three victories. The best game had to be the 2016 meeting in New York in early September. DC were up 1-0 thanks to a Luciano Acosta goal, but 78th and 84th goals by Villa and Lampard respectively gave NYC a 2-1 lead, but Lamar Neagle scored from a corner in the 91st minute to make it 2-2, but two minutes later, Lampard scored the winner. With other good games between the two, the NYCFC home opener against DC will shape up to be a great game for sure. I'm confident NYC can get a result, specifically because it's at home.
April 13th, 2019, NYCFC are the first visitors to Minnesota United's beautiful stadium. Deja vu? *cough* March 2017 *cough* Orlando *cough* Expansion Teams can get stadiums? Take notes NYCFC. I'm looking forward to that meeting, but a talking point for the game will obviously be Yankee Stadium (rumored announcement this Winter) and NYCFCs seemingly incredible stadium search. The last meeting between NYCFC and Minnesota was a late September meeting in 2018. The first game for NYCFC after qualifying for the playoffs for a third straight season. Both Villa and Maxi were rested, and a lapse in concentration from Ben Sweat and Sean Johnson being light years off his line costed us the result. NYCFC continued creating chances, but failed to deliver as the Boys in Blue lost 2-1 to the Loons. In 2018, NYCFC amassed 16 points away from home, the lowest since 2015 (15 points), and the first time since 2015 NYCFC couldn't collect 25 or more points away from home. Obviously being clinical, especially away from home needs to be a necessity for this team who really struggled since August.
I have mixed feelings going into 2019, but I think NYCFC will be fine.
With the transfer window soon opening up, NYCFC need a couple BIG signings if they want to keep their Supporters Shield push into the Fall, and a deep playoff run which might be easier with a one off format.
In defense and goal, NYCFC do not need any changes whatsoever. Our back line has been good enough over the last few years, but a handful of defensive errors near the end of 2018 need to be addressed, but mainly the back line of Matarrita, Callens, Chanot, and Tinnerholm sitting in front of Johnson is good, with Ibeagha and Sweat as reasonable back up. So maybe a bit more out of Cedric Hountondji, Joe Scally, and the back up goal keepers and we're good. Even James Sands can slide in as center back, and he seems comfortable in possession and aggressive defensively.
In midfield, NYCFC have signed Tony Rocha from Orlando City in exchange for a 4th Round pick in the MLS SuperDraft which leaves NYCFC at five central midfielders including James Sands. I'm not sure the exact style of play for Danny Bedoya or Tony Rocha (most likely a holding mid), but James Sands can be a like for like switch for Alex Ring. My biggest issue with NYCFC was not having a like for like back up to Yangel Herrera who missed about four months due to an injury he picked up in late May at Houston. NYCFC need a box to box midfielder, and I'm afraid NYCFC do not have one at their disposal which means Domenec Torrent, Claudio Reyna, and new CEO Brad Sims need to address this. Additionally, NYCFC need a back up to Maxi Moralez who is in his early 30s, and cannot carry the attack on his own. Whether that's making Jesus Medina a central midfielder, or whatever Danny Bedoya does, I'm anxious for NYCFC to make midfield signings.
Finally in attack, NYCFC need to fill the void that David Villa will be leaving. Statistically, NYCFC were good in 2018 without Villa, maintaining a record of 7-3-2 (W-D-L), and eight of those games were under Torrent. In that time without Villa, many players, including Medina, Maxi, and Berget seemed to be better players so maybe we can see what happens there. Taty Castellanos and Jonathan Lewis look like good back up, with Medina having tons of potential, and hopefully Tajouri-Shradi can continue his form from last year, where he scored 11 goals and got 3 assists in 27 appearances, and 10 of his goals came in his 18 starts. Like I said, Berget seemed to be a better play without David Villa, but Berget joined NYCFC injured and picked up two injuries over the summer, so if I were Torrent, I would not put my money on him as the starting striker. He also only scored four goals, where he was tied fifth highest scoring player alongside former Malmo teammate and right back Anton Tinnerholm. For me, the best kind of striker would be a Jozy Altidore eske kind of signing. I'm not a fan of the heavily overrated Jozy Altidore, but a striker who uses his size and strength to try and win possession would be good.
Recap, for me, NYCFC need to sign one or two box to box midfielder, maybe a Maxi back up, and a striker.
Do you agree, disagree? Comment your thoughts
Official: With the 7th pick in Stage 2 of the MLS Re-Entry Draft, the Dynamo have selected midfielder Tommy McNamara. Tommy McNamara will officially join Houston Dynamo for the 2019 season after a couple years with NYCFC.
Official: New York City FC has acquired midfielder Tony Rocha from Orlando City SC in exchange for the Club’s fourth round draft pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft.
Jesus Medina is on a Designated Player salary and to put it lightly, he had an up and down 2018. He scored four times, and had six assists, but injuries, and just plain out disappearing in games, Medina needs to prove he is DP quality. If he doesn't perform to high standards in 2019, NYC need to reconsider his contract.
Jonathan Lewis has the talent, but hasn't gotten enough playtime. 2019 is make or break for the winger. If he doesn't become a mainstay in the 18, and makes a lot more appearances, I feel he needs a new destination.
Sebastian Ibeagha is another player who has had glimpses, and with Chanot gone, this could be the chance that the 2017 USL Defender of the Year needs. Ibeagha needs a big year in 2019, and must prove he can be a mainstay in the XI.
Finally, Jo Inge Berget must have a big 2019. We know he had glimpses, and with a guy like him, we have to be direct. Berget has played out of position and has had tons of injuries in 2018. With David Villa out, and no other striker on the team as of now, Berget is looking like he could be the main guy for now, which means he needs more than four goals.
If Torrent can pressure these four into performances, I believe they can perform, but none of these players have proven to be consistent players with NYCFC.
Rumor: Peruvian player Kevin Quevedo has been rumored to potentially join MLS side NYCFC or Seattle Sounders. He has been rumored in October to be a potential target for NYCFC, but recently Chris Henderson who is the technical director of Seattle Sounders recently travels to Peru to watch him play with Alianza Lima.
NYCFC have let go nine players earlier this week. The biggest losses include David Villa, Maxime Chanot, and Yangel Herrera. Villa joined Vissel Kobe in Japan with Andres Iniesta, Herrera most likely will join Manchester City's reserve team, and Chanot's future is currently up in the air.
NYCFCs biggest struggle this past season was not having a like-for-like replacement for Herrera, so City must find two box-to-box players this winter. Another issue I had was not having a backup to Maxi Moralez. Maxi finished the season with 8 goals and 16 assists in 32 appearances. Ideally, convert Medina as an attacking midfielder which could give City the freedom to finding a new goal scoring winger to be on the left hand side.
David Villa's departure means there is an open DP Slot, and Berget who didn't really impress means NYC must find a replacement for David Villa most likely on a DP Contract. With links to free agent Giuseppe Rossi and Real Betis striker Sergio Leon, with many City fans willing to welcome Javier Hernandez with open arms, there are many options for New York City.
Maxime Chanot had to be the biggest shock, as he is arguably the best defender NYC have had in their short history. NYC currently have Alex Callens who recently signed a one year contract extension with the option to extend past 2019, Sebastian Ibeagha who has been solid, and Cedric Houtondji who has remained injured since his first start in June against the Red Bulls in the US Open Cup. James Sands can be converted to being a centerback, but Sands is the only viable back up to Ring in midfield, meaning NYC have to sign a new center back who should be competing for a starting role.
Overall, City should be looking at at least five signings as they currently are in a decent enough position roster wise to compete for playoff pushes. Also, with Torrents first off season, hopefully he has time to prepare,