HARRISON, N.J. – Two teams battling for an edge in the race for a postseason spot played the sort of chippy match one might expect from sides seeking points. However, it was the New York Red Bulls who tightened their grip on second place in the Eastern Conference with a 1-0 defeat of Toronto FC at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday.
Estonian midfielder Joel Lindpere tallied the only goal of the match in the first half, and a solid outing from the Red Bulls defense ensured the hosts would earn all three points.
Toronto pressed for a strong start in the opening 10 minutes of the match, holding the edge in possession and even creating several scoring opportunities as the Red Bulls seemed unsettled by the high pressure from the visitors.
New York then calmed possession and evened the flow of the game to dominate long stretches of the first half.
The best scoring chances of the night came for the Red Bulls twice during a two-minute sequence in the first half.
New York had their first real chance in the 21st minute when Thierry Henry, collecting a headed ball by Juan Pablo Angel, was sent in alone behind the visitor’s back line. With a full head of steam, Henry went in on goalkeeper Stefan Frei and attempted to round the keeper. The Frenchman went down claiming contact from Frei, but referee Ricardo Salazar saw differently and let play go on.
It wouldn’t matter as New York would get their goal moments later.
Toronto took the free ball from Henry’s claimed foul in the box and never truly cleared the effort. Eventually, the ball would fall to Henry just on the edge of the box. Dancing around the penalty area, Henry was once again felled, but the referee waved for an advantage.
The ball fell to Seth Stammler, who chipped a pass over the Toronto defense and onto the path of Lindpere, and the midfielder powered a shot past Frei to give his side the lead. It was Lindpere's second goal of the season and his first since scoring in the season opener in late March against Chicago.
The match remained chippy and degenerated into some overtly physical play from both sides, requiring Salazar to step in numerous times to calm and settle the match.
Toronto’s best chance to equalize came in the 67th minute when Dwayne De Rosario's free kick from 35 yards out narrowly missed the head of O’Brian White in the six yard area.
In the 85th minute White had another chance to score when he found space in the box after some nice movement by substitute Mista. Settling the ball from about 15 yards out on the right side of the penalty area, White powered the shot well over Greg Sutton in New York’s goal.
Toronto FC 0, at New York Red Bulls 1
Red Bull Arena
Toronto FC (7-7-5)
New York Red Bulls (9-6-4)
NY -- Joel Lindpere 2 (Seth Stammler 1, Thierry Henry 3) 23
TOR -- Julian de Guzman (caution; Reckless Foul) 56 TOR -- Mista (caution; Dissent) 94+
Toronto FC -- Stefan Frei, Maksim Usanov, Nana Attakora, Adrian Cann, Nick Garcia, Jacob Peterson (O'Brian White 65), Joseph Nane (Fuad Ibrahim 76), Julian de Guzman, Nick LaBrocca, Dwayne De Rosario, Chad Barrett (Mista 33). Substitutes Not Used: Gabe Gala, Ty Harden, Raivis Hscanovics, Jon Conway.
New York Red Bulls -- Greg Sutton, Chris Albright, Carlos Mendes, Tim Ream, Danleigh Borman, Macoumba Kandji (Salou Ibrahim 81), Tony Tchani, Joel Lindpere, Seth Stammler, Juan Pablo Angel (Carl Robinson 89), Thierry Henry (Sinisa Ubiparipovic 46). Substitutes Not Used: Andrew Boyens, Austin Da Luz, Mike Petke, Chris Sharpe.
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Referee's Assistants: -Thomas Supple; Bill Dittmar
4th Official: Andrew Chapin
Time of Game: 1:53