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Toronto FC interim coach Javier Perez suffered his first defeat on Wednesday, and is now aiming for his team to bounce back against New York City FC.

Perez’s side lost 3-0 to Philadelphia Union, a first defeat since he replaced Chris Armas last month.

“This is a big red flag that we were expecting at some point,” said Perez.

“You make some steps forward and at one point you make one step backward: it was tonight. We came flat in the first half.

“The team was sending some signs that it was going to be the case, but it was one of these games that you just have to go through and the only positive thing is it was an exercise to stay in the game.”

Toronto sit 13th in the Eastern Conference, 13 points behind fifth-place NYCFC, who were held to a goalless draw by struggling Chicago Fire last time out, though Ronny Deila was not too frustrated by the result.

“Chicago have been very unlucky not to get more points than they have and we saw why, they are well organized, have a very good style of play, hard to stop, so they’re going to take a lot of points,” said Deila.

“We were solid defensively, offensively we had some opportunities, we should had made some situations better. It was important we took something with us, we didn’t concede anything and wetake a really big point with us.

“Of course we need to rotate, that’s for sure, we’ll see where we’re at.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Toronto FC – Jozy Altidore

Experienced forward Jozy Altidore seemed to have reignited his form with a goal against Orlando City on July 18, but has failed to add to his season tally of two strikes in the last four games.

NYCFC – Valentin Castellanos

Valentin Castellanos failed to score against Chicago despite hitting four of his five attempts on target. It was the third time in his MLS career that the forward has had at least four shots on target without scoring.

KEY OPTA FACTS

·The only other NYCFC player to have had even one game where he hit the target at least four times without scoring was David Villa (five times).

·Toronto has won four of their last five home games against NYCFC (L1, excluding the meeting in East Hartford, CT, last year), keeping a clean sheet in all four of the victories. No other team has managed to keep four home clean sheets against NYCFC since they joined the league in 2015 (including playoffs).

·Toronto’s five-match unbeaten run (W2 D3) ended with a 3-0 defeat at Philadelphia on Wednesday. It was the fifth time Toronto has allowed three or more goals in a match this season, tied with FC Cincinnati for most in MLS this season.

·New York City FC’s scoreless draw with the Fire on Wednesday ended a streak of 25 straight regular season matches with a goal for NYCFC dating back to September 2020. It tied the fourth longest run of regular season games with a goal in MLS history with no team having a longer streak since Columbus scored in 27 straight matches in 2008-09.

·All three goals Toronto conceded against the Union were scored in the first half. Toronto has conceded an MLS-high 16 goals in the first half this season including a league-high nine in the first 15 minutes.

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