Preview: TFC, RBNY set to clash after massive rivalry wins

TOR v NY, 06302012, Game Preview Image

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TORONTO FC vs NEW YORK RED BULLS
BMO FIELD, Toronto, Ont.
June 30, 2012 (WEEK 17, MLS Game #149)
7 p.m. ET (Galavision; SNET One; MSG)

Toronto FC will be looking to make it two wins in a row for the first time this season when they entertain joint Eastern Conference leaders New York Red Bulls on Saturday evening at BMO Field. TFC won for the first time under Paul Mariner at midweek, rolling to a 3-0 win at the Montreal Impact. The Red Bulls pulled into a tie atop the division last weekend with a pulsating 3-2 victory against co-leaders D.C. United.

REFEREE: Ricardo Salazar. SAR (bench): Craig Lowry; JAR (opposite): Claudio Badea; 4th: Tyler Ploeger
MLS Career: 154 games; FC/gm: 27.1; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 44; pens: 57

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INJURY REPORT:

  • TORONTO FC -- OUT: FW Nicholas Lindsay (L knee surgery recovery); GK Stefan Frei (L lower leg); DF Ty Harden (R adductor strain); DF Adrian Cann (R knee sprain); FW Joao Plata (R hamstring strain)
  • NEW YORK RED BULLS -- OUT: MF Teemu Tainio (R knee sprain); FW Jose Angulo (R knee sprain); DF Markus Holgersson (L ankle sprain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Wilman Conde (groin tightness); PROBABLE: FW Thierry Henry (R calf strain); MF Rafa Marquez (R thigh injury)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

SUSPENDED: none

WARNINGS:

  • SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: NY: Dax McCarty
  • SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: NY: Joel Lindpere, Mehdi Ballouchy ... TOR: Ashtone Morgan, Julian de Guzman

HEAD-TO-HEAD

ALL-TIME (13 meetings): Toronto FC 4 wins, 13 goals ... Red Bulls 7 wins, 27 goals ... Ties 2

AT TORONTO (27 meetings): Toronto FC 3 wins, 10 goals ... Red Bulls 2 wins, 10 goals ... Ties 2

RETURN MATCH: 9/29: New York Red Bulls vs. Toronto FC, 7 p.m. ET (TSN2/RDS2)

LAST YEAR (MLS)
7/6: NY 5, TOR 0 (Henry 33; Rodgers 38; Lindpere 52; Agudelo 67, 89)
10/1: TOR 1, NY 1 (Koevermans 50 -- Henry 88)

  • The Red Bulls haven't lost to Toronto FC in five matches, since their final meeting in 2009. New York had won four in a row -- outscoring TFC 15-1 over that span -- before the teams played to a 1-1 draw last Oct. 1 at BMO Field.
  • Toronto FC's last win came at BMO Field, a 2-0 win June 24, 2009.
  • Coaches record: Paul Mariner v NY: first game ... Hans Backe vs. TOR: P4 W3 L0 D1

TORONTO FC

Toronto FC made a winner of new head coach Paul Mariner for the first time, rolling to a 3-0 win against arch-rivals Montreal Impact on Wednesday evening at Stade Saputo. TFC is in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, with eight points from 14 games.

HIGHLIGHTS: Reds storm Saputo

LAST MATCH

  • Toronto FC took the lead at the 52nd minute. Torsten Frings unleashed thunderous free kick from 22 yards out which passed right through the hands of Montreal goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
  • The lead was doubled in the in the 72nd minute, as Nick Soolsma picked up a loose ball tackled away by Danny Koevermans. He fed Ryan Johnson, whose left-footed strike from the top of the box curled its way through a scrum of Impact defenders and into the back of the net.
  • Toronto sealed the match in the 78th minute, a Koevermans finish from close range on a low cross from the left by Ashtone Morgan, after he was freed behind the Impact rearguard by Johnson.
  • TFC head coach Paul Mariner made one change to the team that reached a 2-2 tie with the New England Revolution at BMO Field. Logan Emory came into the back four for Doneil Henry.
  • TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Milos Kocic - Jeremy Hall (Nick Soolsma 46), Logan Emory, Richard Eckersley, Ashtone Morgan - Terry Dunfield, Julian de Guzman (Doneil Henry 57), Torsten Frings, Eric Avila (Reggie Lambe 72) - Danny Koevermans, Ryan Johnson.

TEAM NEWS

Frings on first goal, win over Montreal

  • The win was the first for head coach Paul Mariner in three games at the helm, after taking over for Aron Winter on June 7.
  • "It's a spectacular performance by us," said Mariner. "The reason why we won this game is that nobody had a bad game tonight. And I'm not just talking about the starting 11, I'm talking about the whole group, everyone that came on. ... We changed our system and we were focused on the task at hand. We started understanding the system a little bit more."
  • It was the second win of the league campaign for TFC, the first coming on May 26 vs. Philadelphia. But TFC has points from four of their last five league games, and from seven of their last nine games in all competitions.
  • "The way we won the game today, it's really big for us and our confidence. It's also big that this was our first clean sheet all year," said Ryan Johnson. "I'm happy with everything that happened tonight. Paul (Mariner) deserves this victory. He definitely has a lot of faith in us and I'm glad that we were able to give it back to him and show it on the field."
  • Frings' goal directly from a free kick was the first in league play for TFC since the 2010 season. It was his first goal in 22 MLS appearances.
  • "Since Paul's taken over, we've spent a lot of time on set pieces," Dunfield said, "and it's brilliant when something like that comes off." Added Frings: "We tried it before in training. It's very important for us to score the first goal. It gave us a lot of confidence."
  • Said Mariner: "In these situations, Torsten has an absolute cannon on him. It's just a case of two very seasoned professionals working out a set piece and Terry [Dunfield] runs over it. But it was going at such a velocity I don't think [goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts] could get his hands up in time. It was an unbelievable strike."
  • Danny Koevermans has six goals in his last six games -- four in his last three -- after scoring the final goal in Montreal. He also has an assist in that time, as he's been involved in seven of TFC's last 10 goals with a goal or an assist.
  • "We were unlucky the last two games, because of the goals we conceded in stoppage time. Today we were a little bit lucky in the first half, because they pressed in the first 50 minutes," Koevermans said. "But in the second half we did a great job, we defended perfectly. We were solid in the back and I hope we can keep it going like this."
  • Ashtone Morgan has three assists in the last two games after setting up Koevermans' finale.

NEW YORK RED BULLS

The New York Red Bulls returned home and returned to the top of the Eastern Conference after a 3-2 win against D.C. United on Sunday evening at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls are in a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference, with 30 points from 16 games.

HIGHLIGHTS: New York get massive Atlantic Cup win

LAST MATCH

  • United got off to a flying start, taking a quick lead after just 31 seconds when an unmarked Chris Pontius headed home a cross from the right by Danny Cruz. It was the earliest goal scored in a game in D.C. club history.
  • The Red Bulls drew even in the 20th minute. Joel Lindpere whipped in a quality ball from a corner kick on the left that an onrushing Brandon Barklage struck with an acrobatic flying kick to beat United goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
  • Barklage then his for his second goal just before halftime, punishing his former team again by striking a sensational right-footed volley from 19 yards out after a free kick was blocked by the United wall.
  • New York added to their lead in the 55th minute. A low cross from Lindpere was sent in from the left and found Jan Gunnar Solli, who fired a shot that Hamid saved. But the Red Bulls midfielder was first to pounce on the rebound, knocking in a left-footed effort off the near post.
  • United got themselves back into it 11 minutes later. Pontius scored his fifth of the season against the Red Bulls when Santos fed him a seeing-eye through ball, and rounded a rushing Meara before easily tapping the ball home.
  • Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe made two changes to the team that came back for a 1-1 result with Vancouver Whitecaps FC at BC Place. Rafa Marquez came in central defense in place of Markus Holgersson, and Mehdi Ballouchy started in midfield for the suspended Dane Richards.
  • NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-4-1-1): Ryan Meara - Brandon Barklage, Heath Pearce, Rafa Marquez (Stephen Keel 87), Roy Miller (Victor Palsson 76) - Jan Gunnar Solli, Joel Lindpere (Thierry Henry 69), Dax McCarty, Connor Lade - Mehdi Ballouchy, Kenny Cooper.

TEAM NEWS

Skill Check: New York vs. D.C. United

  • The Red Bulls put an end to their three-game winless streak (0-1-2), their first victory since completing a five-game winning run May 19. "The first 45 is definitely the best we've been playing, probably since I arrived I would say," Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe said. "As I said at halftime, the passing game is phenomenal, very few unforced errors and the movement's top-class."
  • The first two goals of Brandon Barklage's MLS career came within about a half-hour of each other, netting twice against his former club. Barklage spent 2009-11 with D.C. United.
  • "This is the date that I definitely circled on the calendar," said Barklage. "I knew I was just going to go out there and give it 110 percent and whatever happened, happened. Thankfully, I got the two goals against an ex-team. It feels unbelievable."
  • Barklage was making his eighth consecutive league start after taking over the right back spot. "Brandon has been phenomenal [since] the beginning," Red Bulls manager Hans Backe said. "It looked like a couple of weeks ago he was going to have a dip or something like that. He had a rough game against Chicago, bounced back against Vancouver, and played even in defense very good today."
  • Jan Gunnar Solli also scored his first MLS goal, netting the game-winner in the 55th minute.
  • "I played 43 games without scoring a goal," Solli said. "You want to bury that when people are kind of talking about it, 'Oh you're the only one. Heath [Pearce] has come in and scored, Markus [Holgersson] scored, now Barklage scored two.' I was like, 'Come on, this is my chance. I'm not going to walk out of here without having a goal.'"
  • Rafa Marquez made his return to the starting lineup after missing two matches to international duty and injury. It was the third start for Marquez since April 14.
  • "I would probably say that this is Rafa's best performance since he arrived. I would say because (Wilman) Conde and (Markus) Holgersson are out with injuries, so it was quite an easy decision to play Rafa at center back with Heath Pearce," said Backe. "You get two very good football players. You become more composed in the buildup, also with Dax dropping, the fullbacks rushing forward. It was a very easy decision."
  • Holgersson was out of the lineup for the first time this season, ever-present through New York's opening 15 matches. "It's a ligament injury in his foot or ankle so, it's definitely a huge question mark," said Backe.
  • After having made just one appearance in the previous seven league games -- a full 90-minute performance May 23 at Chivas USA -- Thierry Henry came off the substitutes' bench for the final 20 minutes.
  • "You have to play as a team and I think we did that tonight after conceding a goal 40 seconds in," said Henry, who came in as a second-half substitute. "It's refreshing. That's the type of thing I need as an old man."
  • Mehdi Ballouchy made his first start since May 13. "The middle of the park is his best position. He can move the ball quick, move the ball forward, so it's not back passes or side passes, then he's very versatile and almost a number 10," said Backe. "But it's been too many safe passes. He needs to be the guy who goes for the final passes, killer passes, he was very mobile today too. He looked best when he's coming off the bench, then he has made a difference."