A week after routing the top team in the Eastern Conference, the New York Red Bulls were held to a scoreless draw by one of the worst and even that came down to a bit of luck in the opinion of RBNY head coach Mike Petke.
The Red Bulls put forth their latest subpar road performance on Saturday afternoon, looking rather pedestrian against a Toronto FC team that has not won a match since June 15. There was no fluidity in the attack for New York, some sloppy passing and a lack of energy, all of which left Petke to state afterwards that he felt his side was fortunate to have earned the draw at BMO Field.
“Not impressive, not impressive at all,” a clearly frustrated Petke told reporters when asked about his thoughts on the match. “Toronto had the right mentality and we didn’t. If you play this game on paper, we win this game, but this game is not played on paper.
“This game is played with heart, effort, logic, and Toronto won in all those categories today, so in a way I feel fortunate we got a point.”
As has been the case on more than one occasion this season, New York’s defense held firm while the offense struggled to find a rhythm. The outside midfielders were unable to create much danger against a Toronto defense that has conceded 28 times this year, and forwards Thierry Henry and Fabian Espindola rarely found themselves with the ball in dangerous positions.
Clearly, the offense still has plenty of room for improvement.
“A team like [Toronto], they’re just going to kick the long ball and try to push up every time and they’re just going to high press all the time,” said Kosuke Kimura, who started at left back. “That’s their game, because the field is so narrow, that’s made for it. But at the same time, if you want to be a strong team and win more games in this league you have to be able to handle that pressure and atmosphere.”
New York have no time to dwell on the draw. They next host Western Conference leaders Real Salt Lake, an in-form team that will surely punish the Red Bulls if they repeat the type of lackluster outing they had on Saturday vs. Toronto.
“Coming off a 4-0 thrashing of Montreal [Impact], where we were flying on all cylinders and to come here and play like this, I’m honestly confused,” said Petke. “I don’t know. I’ll throw a cliché out there: It’s back to the drawing board.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by email at Franco8813@gmail.com.