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Eastern Conference Championship

Preview: Toronto face all-or-nothing match vs. New York

Toronto FC vs. NY Red Bulls

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images/MLSsoccer.com

BMO FIELD, Toronto, Ont.
(WEEK 29; MLS Game 280)

October 1, 2011
7:30 p.m. ET (TSN; FOX Soccer/Deportes)

Two teams trying to solidify their playoff futures meet at BMO Field when Toronto FC play host to the New York Red Bulls on Saturday evening. The Red Bulls come into the week holding down the 10th spot in the overall standings and the final wild card berth, after their 2-0 win against Portland last weekend. For TFC, it’s much more desperate. To stay alive for a first postseason spot they must win out, and then get a lot of help from other teams.

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REFEREE: Hilario Grajeda. SAR (bench): George Gansner; JAR (opposite): Eric Boria; 4th: Jose Carlos Rivero
MLS Career: 54 games; FC/gm: 24.6; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 11; pens: 7

INJURY REPORT:
TORONTO FC-OUT: MF Elbekay Bouchiba (R knee surgery recovery); DF Adrian Cann (R knee surgery recovery); DF Dicoy Williams (R knee surgery recovery); QUESTIONABLE: DF Demitrius Omphroy (R knee swelling); MF Joao Plata (L hamstring strain); MF Oscar Cordon (R hip flexor)

NEW YORK RED BULLS-OUT: DF Chris Albright (R calf strain); MF Sacir Hot (R knee surgery); MF Carl Robinson (R knee contusion)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: none

WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD:
NY: Mehdi Ballouchy, Roy Miller, Dane Richards, Luke Rodgers
TOR: Danleigh Borman

SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS:
NY: Thierry Henry, Joel Lindpere, Carlos Mendes, Teemu Tainio
TOR: Julian de Guzman, Terry Dunfield, Richard Eckersley, Ty Harden, Andy Iro, Ryan Johnson, Javier Martina, Mikael Yourassowsky

LEAGUE HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (12 meetings): Toronto FC 4 wins, 12 goals…Red Bulls 7 wins, 26 goals …Ties 1
AT TORONTO (6 meetings): Toronto FC 3 wins, 9 goals…Red Bulls 2 wins, 9 goals…Ties 1

  • In the first meeting this season, Juan Agudelo scored twice, Joel Lindpere added a goal and two assists and Luke Rodgers and Thierry Henry also scored as the Red Bulls rolled to a 5-0 win, July 6 at Red Bull Arena.
  • The Red Bulls have won the last four meetings between the teams, outscoring Toronto 14-1 in that time.
  • The Red Bulls won at BMO Field last year for the first time since 2007, a dominating 4-1 victory.
  • The Red Bulls have won the last three meetings at home, not allowing a goal in any game.
  • Coaches record: Hans Backe v TOR: P3 W3 L0 D0…Aron Winter vs. NY: P1 W0 L0 D1

LAST MEETING (MLS)

  • 7/6: NY 5, TOR 0 (Henry 33; Rodgers 37, Lindpere 53; Agudelo 66, 89)
  • The Red Bulls took lead after 33 minutes. Fullback Jan Gunnar Solli swung a low cross into the area and the ball squirted through the defense to an unmarked Thierry Henry. The Frenchman made no mistake, side-footing past Stefan Frei from close range.
  • Four minutes later, the Red Bulls again made Toronto FC pay. This time Solli dribbled towards the right side of the penalty area laid a simple pass to Rodgers in the center of the area. He popped the ball to himself, volleying his shot past a diving Frei.
  • In the 52nd minute, it was 3-0. Dane Richards carried the ball from the halfway line into Toronto’s penalty area and slipped a pass between the Reds’ defense, and from there that Joel Lindpere curled a left-footed shot into the back of the net.
  • Second-half substitute Juan Agudelo then put the finishing touches on with two late goals, acrobatically heading home a Lindpere corner kick in the 66th minute, then sneaking into the six-yard box and sliding home Lindpere’s precision cross (89).
  • NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-4-1-1): Greg Sutton - Jan Gunnar Solli, Tim Ream, Carlos Mendes, Roy Miller - Dane Richards, Dax McCarty, Teemu Tainio (Mehdi Ballouchy 80), Joel Lindpere - Thierry Henry - Luke Rodgers (Juan Agudelo 56).
  • TORONTO FC (4-3-3): Stefan Frei - Dan Gargan, Ty Harden, Richard Eckersley, Danleigh Borman (Ashtone Morgan 46) - Mikael Yourassowsky (Gianluca Zavarise 68), Nathan Sturgis, Tony Tchani (Matt Stinson 57) -  Nick Soolsma, Javier Martina, Joao Plata.

TORONTO FC

Toronto FC saw their brief two-game winning streak come to a crashing halt, falling to 3-0 defeat by Chivas USA on Saturday evening at The Home Depot Center. TFC has 30 points from 30 games on the season, sitting in eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • Chivas USA took the lead after 12 minutes. Ante Jazic served a cross from the left flank that Angel directed toward goal. TFC goalkeeper Stefan Frei was able to tip the ball, but not keep it out of the net.
  • The home side doubled their lead in the 71st minute. Michael Uma±a tracked down a wayward ball on the right and fired a cross back in, where Justin Braun snuck inside his defender and headed the ball inside the near post.
  • Six minutes later the rojiblancos put the game on ice. Ben Zemanski unlocked the Toronto defense with a through ball and Angel ran onto it, lashing a low shot from the edge of the box to beat Frei.
  • TFC head coach Aron Winter made one change to the team that defeated the Colorado Rapids 2-1 at BMO Field. Stefan Frei returned to goal in place of Milos Kocic.
  • TORONTO FC (4-2-1-3): Stefan Frei - Richard Eckersley, Andy Iro, Ty Harden, Ashtone Morgan - Julian de Guzman (Terry Dunfield 46), Torsten Frings - Eric Avila - Nick Soolsma, Danny Koevermans (Danleigh Borman 84), Ryan Johnson (Peri Marosevic 73).

TEAM NEWS

  • Toronto FC saw their two-game winning streak, their longest of the season, come to an end in the 3-0 loss at Chivas USA that left the Reds on the precipice of playoff elimination. TFC has never qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs.
  • “We were a little bit flat today. I think also the problem is the last weeks, we played against very strong opponents and all the travels, and we don’t have a big roster,” said TFC head coach Aron Winter. “But it’s not good enough, we can’t bring every week the same performance that we have done [tonight].”
  • Toronto FC had rebounded somewhat, allowing six goals total over the previous four games, before the three scored by Chivas USA. TFC has allowed 55 goals, most in MLS.
  • “We were just trying to keep the ball a little more, keep our backline a little higher. I think we sat in a little bit too much in the first half and gave them the ball too easily,” said defender Ty Harden. “So we tried to change that and just keep possession and just score when we had our chances, which obviously we didn’t do.”
  • On Wednesday, TFC remained alive in the CONCACAF Champions League with a 1-1 draw against Pumas UNAM of Mexico at BMO Field.
  • “Before (the game) you’d be happy with one point but after the match there is a little disappointment that we gave it away. There are two sides, happy but also disappointed,” Winter said. “Disappointed because we could have won the game and happy because we were missing a lot of players from our lineup and the younger players we used deserve big compliments.”
  • Danny Koevermans had scored the last four goals in all competitions coming into the Pumas match. He played provider on the lone TFC goal, scored by Peri Marosevic. Marosevic now has three goals in all competitions since coming to TFC from FC Dallas.
  • “Behind those big guys, I have to be underneath them in case of second balls, in case balls drop down and that's exactly what happened,” Marosevic said. “Koevermans saw me at the top of the box, laid it off and I saw a wide-open corner. All I had to do was pass it in."
  • Fullback Richard Eckersley was forced from the field for the final quarter of the match with an injury.
  • “We have to wait until (Wednesday),” Winter said. “I hope that his injury is not bad for the remaining games we have to play but we will know more (then).”

NEW YORK RED BULLS

The New York Red Bulls rebounded from a midweek loss with a 2-0 win against the Portland Timbers on Saturday evening at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls have 39 points from 30 games, in fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • The Red Bulls took the lead after 21 minutes. Joel Lindpere received the ball on the left wing laying the ball off for Dane Richards. He then rounded his defender to get to the endline before cutting toward goal and firing a low shot from close range inside the far post.
  • New York sealed the result midway through the second half. From a corner kick, Thierry Henry fired a shot that appeared headed into the back of the goal but was handled by Kalif Alhassan. Referee Alex Prus immediately gave the penalty and showed Alhassan a straight red card, then Luke Rodgers finished with a drive into the roof of the goal from the spot.
  • Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe made two changes to the team that fell 3-1 to Real Salt Lake at Red Bull Arena. Stephen Keel and Carlos Mendes came into the back four for Rafael Marquez and Chris Albright.
  • NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-1-3-2): Frank Rost - Jan Gunnar Solli, Tim Ream, Stephen Keel, Carlos Mendes - Teemu Tainio - Dane Richards (Mehdi Ballouchy 94+), Dax McCarty, Joel Lindpere (Stephane Auvray 83) - Thierry Henry, Luke Rodgers (Juan Agudelo 75).

TEAM NEWS

  • The victory moved the Red Bulls back into 10th place overall and the final wild card spot. D.C. United was one point behind (with two games in hand), while Portland trailed by two points.
  • “With four games to go everyone is very aware of what it means,” said Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe. “As we said before Portland, every game is a cup final now.” Said Dax McCarty: “For us it’s going to be about the New York Red Bulls and how we perform on a daily basis. And then obviously when we have those games it’s all about getting three points from hereon out.”
  • In the last six games, the Red Bulls have scored nine goals. In that time, Dane Richards has three goals and two assists after scoring last weekend vs. Portland; Joel Lindpere has two goals and two assists, getting the helper on Richards’ tally.
  • “We needed to do that starting six, seven, 10 games ago,” defender Tim Ream said. “That’s something we really made a conscious effort (to do). We’re really mindful of it coming into this game. It definitely paid off for us, a solid 2-0 win, three points and getting us right back into the playoff picture.”
  • After comments following the loss to Real Salt Lake, Mexican international Rafa Marquez was suspended by the team for the Portland match.
  • “I think it was definitely much better for everyone to get it out there, let it blow up," said center back Tim Ream. "It was kind of a flash in the pan, it wasn’t really anything. There’s really nothing that lingered. There’s going to be spats every now and again; it’s inevitable. It happened this week and again we’re past it. Hopefully we start a little roll here.”
  • In his place, Stephen Keel- who played for the USSF D-2 Portland Timbers last season, came into the back four. “Anytime I’m called upon I hold myself to a pretty high standard,” Keel said. “No matter whom I’m called in for, no matter when, it’s important to me to give that 100 percent effort.”
  • Costa Rican international Roy Miller was an unused substitute for the Portland game, but has returned to full training. “With Roy, he’s back now and OK,” Backe said. “He had a full session today, his first, so he’s back.”
  • However, fullback Chris Albright, who suffered a calf strain that forced him off after just 15 minutes in the RSL game and then could not go vs. Portland, could be out 4-6 weeks. “[The medical staff] said it looks better than they thought,” Backe said. “[But] it could be the whole season, we just don’t know.”