Following their Knockout Round victory in Chicago, the New York Red Bulls are set to do battle with No. 1 seed Toronto FC in the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals.
The two-legged series will kickoff at Red Bull Arena on either Monday, October 30, or Tuesday, October 31.
For Jesse Marsch, this will be the first time during his tenure the Red Bulls will host the first leg in the playoffs, something he says could prove advantageous.
“You can make an argument that having the home game first sets the tone for the series so it's time to put your money where our mouth is,” Marsch said. “Toronto is a very good team and the reason why we haven't beaten them is because they're a very good team.”
New York is 0-1-1 in two matchups against Toronto FC this season, with a draw at home and loss on the road.
Goalkeeper Luis Robles said it’ll be nice to “have some time to prepare” for Toronto, and acknowledged the challenges ahead.
“Offensively they'll be tough, Giovinco and Jozy, they're a handful and then you look at the guys who feed them the ball and it's not easy to be aware of those guys all the time,” Robles said. “That's going to be the trick. If we can maintain the same positional awareness, maintain aggressive defense which can help us press up the field so we can take chances.”
Robles remarked that although it’s not ideal to face the Supporters’ Shield champions in the semifinals, in his postseason experience, they “might as well play against the best.”
Marsch also realized the complexities of their next opponent, but said the team will be ready for battle come matchday at Red Bull Arena.
“It will be an incredibly big challenge but one that I know we will be up for,” Marsch said. “One that we will be excited for and will be ready to go.”