The New York Red Bulls celebrate one of their four goals against Toronto FC
The road to the playoffs just got a little harder as Toronto FC were outclassed by the New York Red Bulls 4-1 at BMO Field, ending the Reds’ 14 game home unbeaten streak in all competitions this season.
Much of the hype surrounding the match centred on the new designated players for the Red Bulls, France’s Thierry Henry and Mexican international, Raphael Márquez, but there were serious playoff implications as well.
With the loss, TFC now sit eight points behind the second-place Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference. Toronto lost to New York for the second time in ten days, missing a great opportunity to close the gap and inch closer to a guaranteed playoff berth by finishing second in the standings.
The loss coupled with San Jose’s 1-0 win over Los Angeles yesterday now leaves the Reds on the outside looking in and ninth place overall, two points behind the Colorado Rapids. With ten games left into the season, there’s no need to hit the panic button just yet, but the team needs a strong finish if they have any hope of making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
Dwayne De Rosario chases down Mexican international, Rafael Márquez
“We’re still in it but it’s very important that we win these crucial home games,” said captain Dwayne De Rosario. “It’s not time to panic and be a little concerned about where we are right now and it’s very important that we win all of our home games for the rest of the season and if we could bring the same intensity, the same desire and hard work that we do when we’re at home, on the road with us, I think we’ll be fine.”
Coach Preki thought his team had the better chances but thought New York simply made the most of their scoring opportunities.
“After 5 or 6 minutes we really settled in, we had some really good chances,” said Preki. “In all fairness, we had way better chances than they had.”
“I thought we let New York off the hook today but they made their plays and we didn’t make our plays, that’s how the game goes…it’s cruel sometimes.”
Henry and Márquez both started the match for the Red Bulls along with the team’s third designated player and captain, Juan Pablo Ángel. For Toronto, Maicon Santos was out of the line-up again with a sore knee and Chad Barrett started the match on the bench.
The first half was entertaining to say the least, with Toronto dominating early, but lacked the finish as they were not able to convert any of their several scoring chances.
Mista nearly opened the scoring in the 12th minute when he dribbled the ball past a couple of defenders into the middle and let go a shot from the edge of the box but goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul dove to his left to make the save.
De Rosario celebrates his goal early in the second half
Less than three minutes later, Nick LaBrocca nailed the left upright off a clearing attempt. The ball then came back out and in the ensuing goal-mouth scramble Martin Saric managed to get off another shot but was stopped by Coundoul who eventually smothered the ball.
With each missed chance, especially the shot of the post, it seemed as though the bounces were not going to go in Toronto’s favour on this day – that soon became apparent by the end of the first half.
Despite being outplayed, the Red Bulls struck first when Márquez unleashed a brilliant strike from over 20 yards out to quiet the home crowd in the 35th minute. Red Bulls’ Tony Tchani passed the ball into the middle to Marquez who wasted no time to unleash a volley that corkscrewed in the air and curved into the top left corner. TFC keeper Stefan Frei dove valiantly but there was no absolutely no chance for him to make the save.
In the 41st minute, things went from bad to worse for the Reds as Joseph Nane knocked the ball into his own net to increase New York’s lead to 2-0. Márquez floated a free kick into the box, defender Nana Attakora lunged for the ball but missed as it went between his legs and hit Nane, who was running back into the play, for the own goal. Frei, once again had no chance to make a save as the Reds and the entire crowd were left stunned.
TFC started out the second half by attacking and putting pressure on the Red Bulls defence and were rewarded by some hard work by their captain. O’Brian White put a lovely ball in for De Rosario who managed to stay ahead of a defender at the edge of the crease and then turned and fired the ball while falling, as it squeaked between the legs of Coundoul to make it 2-1.
Henry was quiet for the Red Bulls only getting two chances at goal with his best chance coming in the 57th minute when he had ample room but just missed as his shot curved over the right corner of the goal.
In the 60th minute, TFC suffered another bad bounce when a ball crossed into the box for Henry hit Attakora’s hand for an obvious hand ball. Referee, Jair Marrufo, awarded the Red Bulls with a penalty kick and booked Attakora with a red card ejecting him from the game.
Thierry Henry points to Adrian Cann after a disagreement in the second half.
Captain Ángel calmly fired down the middle with Frei being able to get a hand to it, but it deflected off the crossbar and down into the net. The shot was simply too powerful for the keeper to handle as the Red Bulls increased their lead to 3-1.
Former Red, Carl Robinson, came into the game for Márquez in the 74th minute and was showered with a tremendous ovation. The Welshman spent three years in Toronto before being traded to New York in the offseason.
Ironically enough, the game was put of reach by Robinson in the 77th minute. A long cross into the box by Dane Richards was mishandled by Frei, who charged out of the goal and deflected the ball right to Robinson, who headed it into the empty net.
After scoring he covered his mouth with his hand and slumped his shoulders. He looked apologetic as he looked down while his teammates surrounded him and jumped on him in celebration. However, he refused to celebrate in front of the Toronto fans out of respect.
“It was a fantastic reaction…they were fantastic and I would like to say ‘Thank you very much to them’ because it was quite an ovation and I appreciate it very much,” said Robinson of the crowd’s ovation.
“It was 3 great years, I enjoyed my time, every minute of it and that was the reason why I didn’t celebrate…out of respect it was for them as well as my father who is not very well at the moment. He’s seriously ill in the UK so I got things on my mind and that’s why I didn’t pull my shirt off like most people would.”
Toronto now heads to Panama for a CONCACAF Champions League match against Arabe Unido on Tuesday before returning home to take on defending MLS Cup Champions Real Salt Lake on Saturday.