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Composed and Clinical: NYCFC thrash Toronto in Leagues Cup win

NYCFC needed a win, and a win is what they got.

You only have one chance to make a first impression |

It was win or go home: New York City FC needed an emphatic result against Toronto to turn things around, and oh-how-emphatic the final scoreline turned out to be. With the attack firing on all cylinders, NYCFC thumped the Canadian outfit 5-0, assuring themselves a place in the Leagues Cup Round of 32

Confident and composed from the jump, NYCFC were dominant from the opening stages, pressuring Toronto goalkeeper Sean Johnson on numerous occasions. But it took until the 30th minute for the hosts to get on the score sheet, with captain Maxime Chanot converting a header from a corner to get the atmosphere in Red Bull Arena jumping. Two quick-fire goals from new signing Mounsef Bakrar and Santiago Rodríguez saw NYCFC head to the locker rooms as 3-0 leaders at halftime, imparting a euphoric feeling not recently felt amongst the fan base.

Upon the resumption of play for the second half, Toronto started strong. The squad who lost six straight matches looked like they would do anything to crawl back into the match. But the visitors were humiliated further, as two more goals courtesy of Andres Jasson and Rodríguez ensured an impressive win for the Boys in Blue. 

Game Stats

NYCFC: 11 shots, 8 on target, 50.7% possession, 523 passes, 90.4% accuracy, 10 fouls

Toronto FC: 5 shots, 1 on target, 49.3% possession, 508 passes, 88.4% accuracy, 8 fouls

Mounsef Bakrar is the real deal

NYCFC finally has a striker who plays like a striker. 

For the entirety of this season, fans watched stopgap solutions for the squad’s No 9 problem, with numerous players attempting to fill the void left by Taty Castellanos. Finally, however, it seems that NYCFC found their surefire replacement in Mounsef Bakrar. The Algerian, who arrived in New York City only last week, started his first match for the Boys in Blue, and recorded his first goal for the club while being a threat to the Toronto defense all night. 

Bakrar’s 44th-minute strike to put NYCFC up 2-0 was a ferocious half-volley into the Toronto net. After Johnson parried a Rodríguez curler away from goal, the clearance landed to Bakrar, who fired the strike home with power and conviction. It was a strike that could’ve easily flown miles over the bar but was struck in such a manner that it arrowed into the roof of the net, emphasizing the young forward’s impressive technique. 

Outside of his notable finish, Bakrar was involved in nearly every bit of link-up play in the attack until he was subbed off in the 58th minute. The 22-year-old made darting runs through the Toronto back line constantly and was a near ever-present threat when receiving the ball to his feet at the edge of the box. Bakrar put on a show in front of his new endearing fans, marking the beginning of a new era in New Jersey the Big Apple.

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Confidence and composure

During the pregame press conference, NYCFC Head Coach Nick Cushing said that the team was “going to thrash someone soon,” and they did. From the opening whistle, NYCFC had an intensity they hadn’t displayed this season. The squad played with immense confidence, which was evident through their ball movement and chance creation. 

Granted, Toronto aren’t the highest level of competition the club has faced recently. The Canadian outfit lost six straight matches, and were held scoreless in their last four. However, let’s not forget their squad boasts impressive quality in players like Johnson, Federico Bernardeschi, Latif Blessing, and Joel Osorio. On their day, Toronto are a force to be reckoned with, a fact that makes this result all the more important. 

NYCFC were in desperate need of a confidence and momentum booster. A result of this quality can bring about massive change mentally. It reminds the players they are, in fact, good, well-rounded, and competent footballers. It also reminds the fans that this a club still capable of winning games and worth supporting, which then directly impacts the product put forth on the pitch.

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Solidity in defense

One of the biggest concerns surrounding NYCFC this season was the defensive unit’s tendency to lose composure after conceding, thus opening the floodgates for the opposition. Fans have seen it time and time again: The squad gives up an early goal, then desperation takes over. 

That wasn’t the case tonight.

The NYCFC defense stood firm and solid throughout the entirety of Wednesday’s match. Toronto implemented a high press early on, but experienced defenders Chanot and Tayvon Gray remained composed and clinical, as did goalkeeper Matt Freese, who made just his second appearance of the season. 

NYCFC looked sharp when playing out from the back, and weren’t drawn into many rash challenges. This was particularly true during the start of the second half, when Toronto looked most keen on scoring: The NYCFC defense didn’t falter or panic. The back line acted as a cohesive unit, each cog in a single machine, keeping the Toronto attack from really generating any clear-cut chances. 

Overall, it was an impressive performance from NYCFC, top to bottom. Every player seemed confident in their ability, with their performances Wednesday night coming as a breath of fresh air for the entire fan base. 


  • NYCFC, Maxime Chanot 30′
  • NYCFC, Mounsef Bakrar, 45′
  • NYCFC, Santiago Rodríguez 45+2′
  • NYCFC, Andres Jasson 56′
  • NYCFC, Santiago Rodríguez 75′


  • Toronto, Shane O’Neill, foul, yellow card 38′
  • Toronto, Shane O’Neill, foul, second yellow card 84′
  • NYCFC, Tayvon Gray, other reason, yellow card 90′
  • Toronto, Aimé Malika, other reason, yellow card 90′


  • Referee: Guillermo Pacheo
  • Assistant Referees: Enrique Martínez, Max Gómez
  • Fourth Official: Iván López
  • VAR: Allen Chapman
  • Assistant VAR: Tristley Bassue

Attendance: 7,417