New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC have two legs to prove who the frontrunner of the Eastern conference in the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs should be this year. Other teams may have an objection on that but based on recent form, the NYRB and TFC are peaking at the right moment to make a run for the 2017 MLS Cup final.
A good start at home could help the NYRB
The first leg of this matchup is at the Red Bull Arena on October 30, 2017. The Red Bulls will want to find a win in this game to set them up perfectly for a similar performance at BMO Field as the one they produced against the Chicago Fire recently. They have the players to do so but the question will be, can they keep Toronto's frontline from finding the back of the net? Luis Robles is one of the best goalkeepers in Major League Soccer and can make the type of saves that could win games for a team but even he won't be enough if those in front of him do not limit the chances that Toronto FC create.
At the other end, Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sacha Kljestan have rediscovered their magic over the last few weeks which helped NYRB grab the 6th seed in the East for the playoffs. These two talisman were leading the way again for NYRB against the Fire and will look to do against Toronto this week. Daniel Royer and Felipe have been ably assisting them in midfield and they will be needed on the defense side of the ball to shut down Toronto's midfield.
Vázquez could prove to be the key for Toronto
Everyone knows the danger that Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore pose whenever they step onto the field and in the past, closing down those two players would give the opposition a great chance to win the game. This season, however, the signing of Víctor Vázquez has made Toronto even more effective as the Spaniard can create and score goals when needed. Teams now have to figure out how to keep Vázquez quiet as well as Giovinco and Altidore, which gives the rest of the Toronto team opportunities in the attacking third.
What Greg Vanney will want from his defense, is 90 plus minutes of concentration. Toronto have let points slip away from them when their defense has switched off or gotten complacent. With so much on the line, the likes of Drew Moor and Eriq Zavaleta must keep the defensive shape of the team right from the first whistle to the last, thus preventing Wright-Phillips from doing what he does best and stopping Kljestan from finding the big striker in and around the area.
With the quality available to both Jesse Marsch and Greg Vanney, the relative weaknesses of both teams may not be as easy to exploit for either team. A draw looks the most likely result but the number of goals may be what cannot be determined right now.
New York Red Bulls 2, Toronto FC 2.