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How to replace Maxime Chanot against Toronto

Who comes in for City’s suspended center back?

MLS: MLS Cup Playoffs-Semifinals-Toronto FC at New York City FC Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

We all remember what happened the last time New York City FC played against Toronto FC. It was the 2019 Eastern Conference Semifinals, and it was heartbreaking. That’s all I’m really willing to say about it.

Tomorrow, NYCFC travel to the Six looking for revenge against TFC. And they’ll have almost all of their firepower at their disposal, apart from two players. Gudi Thórarinsson — who is still recuperating from an undisclosed lower body injury — and Maxime Chanot who will be serving a one-game suspension for being sent off last weekend against the Columbus Crew.

Gudi has yet to really assimilate himself into the squad, so his omission from the team sheet on Saturday shouldn’t raise too many eyebrows. The loss of Chanot, however, could hurt. Being the second most tenured player on the club, Chanot has been a key player for NYCFC since mid-2016. And despite having his lapses (getting sent off in the season opener last week just three minutes in), he pretty great more often than not.

When it comes to replacing the Luxembourg center back, my primary choice would be James Sands. The City Homegrown has been an exceptional talent in both the backline and midfield since he’s joined the club, and I feel that he boosts the squad just a bit more than Sebastien Ibeagha does at the moment. His inclusion also allows Keaton Parks to re-enter the midfield.

Ibeagha could be a good shout. But as good as he is as a No. 6, Sands’ contributions are much better as a defender. And as of right now, I see no reason for him to be sat on the bench.