To the firmly established feuds featuring Blue Jays/Yankees, Leafs/Rangers and Raptors/Nets comes a new New York angle -- Toronto FC against the Red Bulls.
The two soccer hotbeds commence their Major League Soccer rivalry tonight at BMO Field, with Toronto hoping to grease New York's recent fall from first place in the Eastern Conference.
But the Red Bulls feature dynamic players such as forward Juan Pablo Angel and midfielder Claudio Reyna and until a weekend loss in Kansas City, had been a superb defensive side.
"It will be great if we could get a kind of derby atmosphere between the cities," TFC striker Danny Dichio said yesterday after practice. "It would be great for the MLS."
Similar to TFC, which has been carrying the banner for Canadian soccer in its inaugrual season, the Bulls are a team with a definite American flavour, thanks to head coach Bruce Arena. The former coach of the U.S. national team has extensive MLS credentials with DC United, where Toronto counterpart Mo Johnston knows him well.
"He's done a wonderful job for that team and for (the American profile) in MLS," Johnston said. "They were among the top-four countries in the world a few years ago. When people look back, he will be remembered as one of the best coaches in that country."
Johnston has to worry about his own squad, however, depleted through a combination of injury, suspension and players on loan to the Canadian team at the Gold Cup in Miami. Srdjan Djekanovic will be taking Greg Sutton's place in goal again this evening.
Defender Kevin Goldthwaite picked up a red card Saturday in TFC's 2-1 win over Colorado. Chris Pozniak will be moved around at the back as Johnston tries to compensate.
Dichio can see some chemistry developing with TFC, even with the expansion team's roster in a state of flux.
"Mo's getting the kind of players and the kind of characters he wants," Dichio said. "Any time you have a new team and have seven or eight new starters, it's going to take time."
TFC also plays host to FC Dallas on Sunday and could, under favourable circumstances, bring its 3-5-1 record close to .500.
"We've got to pick up at least three or four points," Johnston said.
TFC and Purolator are joining forces to help the Daily Bread Food Bank tonight. Fans are asked to bring canned goods or a cash donation and receive a TFC postcard and a chance to win prize packs.