New York City FC return to the Bronx for a meeting with Toronto FC this Saturday at 1 p.m. ET. Here are the Keys to the Match:
Stick or Twist
Ronny Deila has an interesting decision to make in the NYCFC engine room. Nicolas Acevedo performed well against Orlando City on Saturday and created two good chances from deeper positions.
The first allowed Taty Castellanos to get a shot off, while the second almost saw Jesus Medina score a game-winning goal in injury time. Deila could stick with that formation, which would give NYCFC a great creative outlet from deep in Acevedo.
The 45-year-old could also move James Sands further up the field, alongside Keaton Parks, and return to a 4-2-3-1 formation that he started the campaign with.
The situation is a direct consequence of the depth the team has at central midfield, and while that might cause the occasional selection headache, it also means NYCFC can pick a player best suited to the task at hand.
For that reason, we should be able to take a lot from which player is chosen in midfield. NYCFC will aim to control the ball regardless, but what they do with it from there will have a degree of nuance to it.
Picking up on something Joshua Kloke said this week in The Away End.
“TFC sometimes suffers from a lack of speed throughout the middle of the pitch.”
In Michael Bradley, Toronto has an experienced leader who can control the tempo of the game and support attacks when necessary, but there have been times the backline has been left exposed in the early weeks of the season. Chris Armas has shown a desire for his team to press high up the field.
While that approach does have obvious benefits, it also means that when an opponent breaks through the press Toronto’s defense can be left exposed. The situation is compounded by the fact that Toronto’s midfield struggles to recover, and you can see a good example of this from last weekend.
The second goal starts with a pass from the goalkeeper that lands at the feet of Dru Yearwood near the half-way line. As Yearwood collects the ball, the Toronto midfield is behind the play. He advances almost 30 yards unchallenged before slotting the ball through the defense.
Jesus Medina has been used in a central position of late by Ronny Deila, and if that persists, we could see a similar scenario whereby the Paraguayan collects the ball between the lines, behind TFC’s midfield, and causes havoc from there on out.
The Soteldo Factor
Yeferson Soteldo is Toronto’s big-name acquisition this summer, and has already clocked up some early minutes for TFC this week.
The diminutive playmaker brings speed and creativity to the Toronto attack, and while Alejandro Pozuelo continues to recover from injury there will be an added responsibility for Soteldo to hit the ground running.
His presence in the final third could allow Toronto’s midfielders to sit deeper and feel less of an obligation to support the attack.
Adding a player of Soteldo’s caliber will boost any attack, and NYCFC will need to be wary of giving the player time and space to conduct things in the final third.