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New York City FC vs. Toronto FC preview + how to watch & stream online

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The Blues arrive at the BMO looking to make it four straight W's.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

We hit the pillow Sunday evening tied on points with Montreal for first place in the Eastern Conference.

Just a few short weeks ago, this was unforeseeable.

But of course, unforeseeable doesn't mean unlikely.

I'm just gonna go all in: this was meant to happen, and New York City FC is a team of destiny. Anointed. Consecrated by fate itself.

With this as our orientation, tonight's road tilt against the formidable Reds of Toronto has all the makings of a great battle. Sebastian Giovinco and David Villa have had no trouble scoring goals when these teams have met, and raw physicality in the trenches is all but assured with famously chippy talents like Josh Saunders and Damien Complainypants Perquis around. Add that in with the fact that New York City would sit all alone at the top of the table with a win, and it would seem to be all of a piece:

Conflict is a mountain. Let's climb the damn thing.

For Toronto, a return to the ostensibly familiar confines of BMO Field may not feel so familiar at rise-- the Reds have played eight of their ten total matches on the road. On form, that may not bode so well for them, for two reasons:

  1. NYCFC is the only MLS team besides Toronto with three road wins.
  2. In four previous meetings, TFC has never, ever defeated New York City. (This is the first-ever team NYCFC will have played five times in total.)
Indeed, it's the Blues that have every reason to feel comfortable. They're the hottest squad in the East, and their three-match win streak is equaled only by the surging Vancouver Whitecaps. Patrick Vieira has cracked the code, proving to fans and critics alike that a man can throw all worldly orthodoxy out the window and still win games. Whether it's having the courage to bench Mix Diskerud (and his mammoth contract), trusting Mikey Lopez as both a box-to-box racer and a Number Six defensive mid, pushing Andrea Pirlo forward, or giving RJ Allen the chance to feature over a healthy Andoni Iraola, New York City's gaffer is downright impervious to conventional wisdom.

Can you argue with the results?

The return of Federico Bravo, who missed Sunday's win at Portland due to yellow card accumulation, looms large for the evening's proceedings. He'll be tasked with cutting out Giovinco and limiting the playmaking punch of Michael Bradley and Will Johnson. With Saturday's Hudson River Derby casting an outsized shadow, expect Andrea Pirlo to get a rest tonight. That means more time on the ball for Bravo. The Boca Juniors loanee will need to reintroduce himself in a big way to keep NYCFC's newfound build-from-the-back cohesiveness intact.

But one other central midfielder could perhaps be tonight's most compelling wild card of all:

Frank. James. Lampard.


That's right, folks. Dank Frank could be back TONIGHT. Tonight! And here's the zaniest thing about that: it's totally unclear whether his long-delayed return to the fold will be a good thing or a bad thing!

Here's what we know: you can't play a 4-3-3 with Pirlo and Lampard together in the middle and have even a remote chance of shutting down counter-attacks and the kind of individual skill that animates Sebastian Giovinco. But if Pirlo sits out with an eye toward the Red Bulls, tonight could be the perfect setup for Phat Phranq's 2016 debut.



INJURED & ABSENT

Toronto:

OUT: Jozy Altidore (hamstring), Benoit Cheyrou (quadriceps)

QUESTIONABLE: Marco Delgado (hamstring), Jonathan Osorio (ankle)

New York City:

OUT: Connor Brandt (core muscle repair)

QUESTIONABLE: Jack Harrison (pelvis injury), "Frank" "Lampard" (gastrocnemius inflammation)

HYPE

EDITORS' PREDICTION

New York City 3, Toronto 2. TFC stays winless all-time against the Blues. Ronald Matarrita scores a 25 yard screamer for his first MLS goal. Giovinco gets shut out, but the Reds get an open play goal from Will Johnson and a set piece header from Drew Moor. New York City makes it three through Mix Diskerud and Stiven Mendoza. The 2016 win streak hits four, setting up a media mega-cyclone for Saturday's South Bronx clash with the Red Bulls.

HOW TO WATCH

Toronto FC vs. New York City FC
Wednesday, May 18th, 7:00pm ET
BMO Field, Toronto, Ontario
WATCH on YES Network
LISTEN on WFAN 660AM (English) & WQBU 92.7 FM (Spanish)
STREAM on Fox Sports Go (in-market) & MLS Live (out-of-market)

To find the YES Network on your television dial, CLICK HERE.