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PREVIEW: New York City vs. Toronto

It looks like now or never for the Bronx Blues, who stand undefeated against Toronto through two meetings.

Guaje & Co. boast a road win and a home draw against TFC.
Guaje & Co. boast a road win and a home draw against TFC.
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

In this inaugural season, it's been difficult to keep finding fresh verbs synonymous with "outclassed."

Given the preeminent Groundhog Day-ishness of New York City FC's ramshackle year, you'd swear that Bill Murray was really the one who replaced Tim Pernetti in the front office.

But I don't mean to suggest that this debut campaign has been some kind of comedy. In fact, given (1) the Frank Lampard public relations disaster that continues to rage after fourteen agonizing months, (2) the pathetic, downright perfunctory roster construction perpetrated by City Football Group, Claudio Reyna, and Jason Kreis, and (3) the appallingly hamstrung fan experience at Yankee Stadium re: security and police, this season really reeks more of French Existentialism, or perhaps a series of non-narrative, inane, psychedelic tableaus, something like Un Chien Andalou (but with better hairdos).

I mean....



Somehow, though, the Bronx Blues -- by one metric, the unluckiest club in MLS -- still have an extant chance to rage against the dying of the light.

On Wednesday night, Toronto FC comes back to town, the team that drew 4-4 at Yankee Stadium in July. The match was every bit of a barn-burner. The two best finishers in MLS each missed a spot kick in the first half. David Villa slammed home a free kick goal for the second straight game. Sebastian Giovinco finished off a hat trick in less time than it takes to bake a potato.

The excitement was palpable that day, but the calculus has changed for New York City. Their playoff window is barely cracked open. Not even enough to feel a draft!

Yes, it couldn't be less easy-breezy for the Borough Boys. Having lost five of their last seven (!), they've got to win this one. They've got to!

But can they? Yes, they can, although the odds aren't exactly favorable: for TFC, the world-beating Sebastian Giovinco came roaring back from a brief injury, and Michael Bradley skipped the last United States friendly to bolster the reds' playoff cred as much as possible. Blues fans will take heart, however, in Toronto's head-scratching loss to New England over the weekend, a result that largely opposed the run of play.

Unfortunately, for as much as Toronto gets maligned for their "Let's Just Give the Ball to Giovinco and Maybe He'll Score" strategy, New York City hasn't got a plan even as good as that. Frank Lampard continues to constitute a boil on City Football Group's hind parts, the team's assist leader and reigning player of the month can't even get a spot in the starting lineup, and basically half the roster is overpaid.

Also: can someone please confirm that Khiry Shelton is all right? Or if he even still exists?

If there's a reason to keep one's head up, it's the fact that playoff rivals Montreal are pretty likely to lose their Wednesday night matchup on the road at San Jose. Eastern Conference clubs have been weak against the West in general, but positively nightmarish when forced to fly cross-country. That bodes well for the Good Guys.

But it won't mean anything if they can't take care of their own business in the Bronx.

Frank Lampard needs to score for this team to win. There, I said it! The man is overdue, and so are the embattled fans of such an embattled team.

Let's call it right now: Frank bags a brace (one goal with each foot) and Villa scores on another free kick tucked lovingly inside the near post.

New York City wins, 3-2.