Red Bulls rediscover possession game in rout of TFC

Thierry Henry con Luke Rodgers

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HARRISON, N.J. — On Tuesday morning following training, Thierry Henry lamented how the Red Bulls have had to claw and fight for every point they’ve earned over the last 11 matches, a stretch of results that has seen New York win just once and tie eight times. Henry mused that just once, given the team’s recent penchant for giving up leads, he’d like to win by three goals and not have to worry about the night’s result being in doubt.

He got that and then some during Wednesday night’s 5-0 win over Toronto. A hard-nosed New York defense clamped down on the visitors, kickstarting the counterattack and giving the Red Bulls a much-needed, easy win.

WATCH: Full Match Highlights

“We didn’t concede goals today,” Henry said after the match. “Even if we hadn’t scored four or five, we would have won by three or two.”

The win gives the Red Bulls a sense of relief and just their second win since May 7. The emphatic result was spearheaded by goals from Henry and Luke Rodgers in the first half, staking New York to a 2-0 halftime lead. After Joel Lindpere scored the game’s third goal in the 52nd minute, New York found a rhythm and began to keep possession for long stretches of the match as TFC wilted.

The Red Bulls knocked the ball around with ease and comfort, akin to their stylish performances at the beginning of the season.

“Everybody wanted the ball. I saw a lot of the same things I saw earlier in the season,” said right back Jan Gunnar Solli. “We were all over them with the passing game.”

Wednesday night was nearly a full-strength New York side, minus only Rafa Márquez, who continues to recover from a hamstring injury suffered in the Gold Cup. With nearly the entire first-choice squad available, the easy win over Toronto was a glimpse into what the Red Bulls are capable of when they’re clicking on all cylinders.

“It’s almost a full team,” head coach Hans Backe said. “I hope and expect we can be a team that can control the game.”

Earlier in the season, New York often held a significant edge in possession but struggled to find goals, such as in their road loss to Philadelphia. Too often they failed to turn time on the ball into dangerous opportunities.

But that wasn’t the case Wednesday. In the rout against Toronto, the Red Bulls moved effortlessly from defense into the attacking third, generating chances and solid scoring opportunities after stringing passes together. Four different players scored for the Red Bulls, who held a 17-8 shot advantage over TFC.

“It’s a mentality we’re going to keep the ball, keep possession, dictate the play,” midfielder Dax McCarty said. “When we create as many chances as we did tonight, we’re going to be tough to beat.”

Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer