Where does the time go? It's difficult to conceive that just a year ago, we tumbled into Yankee Stadium decked in our sky blue for the very first time. A lot has changed since then, but the attractive sense of hopefulness -- of unfettered jubilance, akin to that of a child playing Grand Theft Auto for the first time -- is familiar. Drink it in. Breathe it.
Hold on a sec, a bluebird just landed on my shoulder.
This time last year, the Revs of New England plodded their way onto the pitch without star men Lee Nguyen and Jermaine Jones, and NYCFC went on to a famous 2-0 win. It was a massive day for the city and for Major League Soccer. Unfortunately, what followed was an eleven-match winless slumber. Today, David Villa & Co. will look to start fast, dominate the ball, and keep the points flowing.
(NOTE TO RED BULL FANS: "Points" are what the league awards for victories and draws.)
Toronto FC, fresh off its first-ever Eastern Conference playoff appearance, arrives in the South Bronx on the heels of a 2-0 win in New Jersey. While reigning MVP and noted atomic ant Sebastian Giovinco is basically automatic -- his summertime hat trick at Yankee Stadium last year could have been four; he missed a penalty -- the Reds hope that a re-worked defensive core, including newcomers Drew Moor and Steven Beitashour will propel them to their greatest heights. And we oughtn't underestimate the influence of a guy like Will Johnson, who joined the TFC midfield following a respected run as captain of the Portland Timbers.
On the Blues' side, let's be clear: David Villa and Tommy McNamara are going to score in this game. The question is, then, whether Toronto can score (at least) three. As we saw last week, a radically mediocre team like Chicago can score three goals against a team that lines up Ethan "The Fright" White at right fullback in a starting XI devoid of a single defensive midfielder. If Vieira is once again without Andoni Iraola, who is listed as questionable with a hamstring issue, we may very well see a repeat of last year's outrageous 4-4 draw.
INJURED & ABSENT
New York City
OUT: RJ Allen (lumbar disk herniation), Connor Brandt (core muscle repair), Jack Harrison (hip injury)
QUESTIONABLE: Andoni Iraola (hamstring strain), Frank Lampard (calf strain).
OUT: Clement Simonin (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: Jozy Altidore (
Jozy Gonna Jozy hamstring)
HOW TO WATCH & STREAM ONLINE
New York City FC vs. Toronto FC
Sunday, March 13th, 5:00pm ET
Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York
WATCH on ESPN2
STREAM on WatchESPN
LISTEN on WFAN 660AM (English) & WADO 1280AM (Spanish)
THREE QUESTIONS FOR TODAY'S GAME
- Federico Bravo and Mikey Lopez were called upon last weekend to add defensive steel to a midfield base that couldn't shield the back four to save its life. Will either one play a broader role today, perhaps in tandem with a three-at-the-back defense?
- Will we perhaps catch a glimpse of Stiven Mendoza? The new Corinthians loanee (and first NYCFC player to don the number nine shirt) is reportedly available for selection.
- Two of New York City's greatest scoring threats, Patrick Mullins and Kwadwo Poku, didn't see the field against Chicago. Could Vieira hand them their debuts today, or will questions continue to swirl about their particular roles with the team?
Eff it. I'm calling 4-4. It's gonna happen again. But hey, if you're gonna draw, make it rad.