The fight for first place in the MLS Eastern and Western Conferences goes up a notch this weekend.
West-leading FC Dallas visits New York City FC, third in the East, on Saturday while Toronto looks to cement its position atop the East on Sunday when it hosts the No. 2 New York Red Bulls.
"I think this won't be the last time we see the Red Bulls this year," warned Toronto fullback Justin Morrow. "This is a team that we're going to have to get through to win the [MLS]mls Cup so it's an important match in that sense."
Sunday marks the third regular-season rubber match between the two with each team already posting a victory at Red Bulls Arena. Toronto (13-8-7) took the season opener 2-0 while the Red Bulls (12-9-8) won 3-0 in late May.
Both are currently in fine form. The Red Bulls are unbeaten in 11 league games (5-0-6) while Toronto has lost just once in its past nine outings (7-1-1).
"Two good teams who I know will get after it in a big way," Toronto captain Michael Bradley said. "I know we're excited."
"I think it will be intense," Toronto coach Greg Vanney said.
"It's still not the be-all end-all of all games but I think it's one that we look forward to because we always know it's a highly competitive affair," he added. "We also know if we get three points, it creates a real separation between us and New York, which is a very good team."
A win and Toronto qualifies for the post-season for the second year in a row. A tie may also suffice depending on other results.
Helped by Bradley Wright-Phillips' 18 goals, New York is tied for the league lead in scoring at 1.69 goals per game. Toronto ranks second in defence, yielding 1.04 goals a game.
The Red Bulls defence is no slouch, conceding 1.28 goals a game to rank sixth in the league.
But there are cracks in the New York facade. Some 11 of its 27 goals conceded have come in the last 15 minutes of the match. And the Red Bulls' 2-7-6 road record is poor.
Scoring first has been key for Toronto. The team is unbeaten when it scores the first goal (13-0-1) and winless when it doesn't (0-8-5).
Star striker Sebastian Giovinco, who missed Toronto's last game with strains in his quadriceps and adductor, featured in training Friday with Vanney cautiously optimistic.
"He was good today and very active. He looked positive today," he said.
Giovinco, who has 16 goals this season, will be evaluated Saturday.
"We'll make a decision then but we're going to make a wise decision either way it goes," Vanney added.
Vanney also has yet to say whether he will start Clint Irwin, the No. 1 keeper who has been sidelined with a quadriceps strain since June 25, in place of Alex Bono.
TFC has gone 8-2-3 in league play with Bono, who ranks second in the league in goals-against at 0.98. Bono has three clean sheets.
Irwin, who was excellent prior to going down, has a 1.08 goals-against average (to rank fourth in the league) with six shutouts.
Ashtone Morgan, Mark Bloom, Jay Chapman and Tosaint Ricketts are unavailable through injury.
Toronto is in good shape for the remainder of the regular season with five of its six remaining games at BMO Field.
The Red Bulls are coming off a 1-0 win Thursday over El Salvador's Alianza FC in Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League play.