New York Red Bulls vs. Toronto FC | MLS Match Preview

RED BULL ARENA, Harrison, N.J.
Sept. 14, 2013 (WEEK 29, MLS Game #264)
7 p.m. ET (TSN2/RDS2; MSG)
Needing victories to keep pace atop the Eastern Conference, the New York Red Bulls return home to take on Toronto FC on Saturday evening at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls sit in a three-way tie atop the division and are three points off the league's best record, following their 4-1 win at the Houston Dynamo last weekend. Toronto FC hit the road on the verge of playoff elimination following their 1-1 home draw with the Chicago Fire at midweek.
REFEREE: Edvin Jurisevic. AR1 (bench): C.J. Morgante; AR2 (opposite): Brian Dunn; 4th: Kevin Terry Jr.
MLS Career: 64 games; FC/gm: 22.7; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 8; pens: 9
SUSPENDED: TOR: Doneil Henry (caution accumulation; through Sept. 14)
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: TOR: Gale Agbossoumonde, Justin Braun, Matias Laba
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: NY: Jamison Olave, Tim Cahill, Jonny Steele ... TOR: Richard Eckersley, Darel Russell, Reggie Lambe, Steven Caldwell, Bobby Convey, Jeremy Hall
ALL-TIME (17 meetings): Red Bulls 9 wins, 34 goals ... Toronto FC 4 wins, 16 goals ... Ties 4
AT NEW YORK (7 meetings): Red Bulls 6 wins, 21 goals ... Toronto FC 1 win, 4 goals ... Ties 0
2013 (MLS)
4/27: TOR 1, NY 2 (Osorio 83 -- Cahill 39, 89)
7/20: TOR 0, NY 0
  • The teams are playing for the third time this season. Tim Cahill scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner in the 89th minute to give the Red Bulls a 2-1 victory April 27 at BMO Field; they played to a scoreless draw July 20 in Toronto.
  • The Red Bulls have an nine-game undefeated streak alive (6-0-3) vs. Toronto FC, dating back to June 24, 2009, a 2-0 TFC win at BMO Field. New York has two wins and three draws in its last five visits to Toronto.
  • The Red Bulls have won their last four home games vs. TFC, and have won all three meetings lifetime at Red Bull Arena (with a 10-1 goal differential). TFCís only away win vs. New York came in 2008, a 3-1 win at Giants Stadium.
  • Coaches record: Mike Petke v TOR: P2 W1 L0 T1 ... Ryan Nelsen vs. NY: P2 W0 L1 T1
  • Chances were few and far between, mainly coming after the break. Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles was called upon to make three saves on the day, while TFC goalkeeper Joe Bendik needed to make just one save.
  • TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Joseph Bendik - Richard Eckersley, Doneil Henry, Steven Caldwell, Ashtone Morgan - Jonathan Osorio, Matias Laba, Jeremy Hall, Bobby Convey - Jeremy Brockie, Justin Braun (Reggie Lambe 87).
  • NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-4-2): Luis Robles - Brandon Barklage, Jamison Olave, Markus Holgersson, Kosuke Kimura - Eric Alexander, Dax McCarty (Peguy Luyindula 79), Tim Cahill, Jonny Steele (Marius Obekop 69) - Thierry Henry, Fabian Espindola (Michael Bustamante 86).
The New York Red Bulls won their second match on the trot, traveling to BBVA Compass Stadium and rolling to a 4-1 win against the Houston Dynamo on Sunday afternoon. The Red Bulls are in a three-way tie for first place in the Eastern Conference with 45 points from 28 matches.
  • The Red Bulls opened the scoring in the 14th minute with a dazzling early goal. Eric Alexander started the play down the middle, playing a sharp give-and-go with Jonny Steele and curling a shot from 20 yards out which beat Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall, who was off his line.
  • Houston responded four minutes later. Alexander Lopez lofted a perfect pass into the path of the streaking Jason Johnson in the left side of the area, and the rookie took a touch before pushing his shot past goalkeeper Luis Robles.
  • But early in the second half, the Red Bulls again grabbed the lead. Thierry Henrry collected a ball from Bradley Wright-Phillips and, after a mis-hit backpass from Houston midfielder Adam Moffat, walked into the box and finished past Hall.
  • The Red Bulls stuck in the dagger in the 59th minute. Wright-Phillips put a ball over the top and Steele beat the pulled-up Dynamo back line, rounded Hall and calmly finished for the Red Bulls' third.
  • With the Dynamo pushing forward, Lloyd Sam found a fourth goal for the visitors, side-footing home from the heart of the area as the Houston back line was pulled apart with sharp passing.
  • Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke made three changes to the team that defeated D.C. United 2-1 at Red Bull Arena. Kosuke Kimura and Jamison Olave came into the back four for Brandon Barklage and the suspended Ibrahim Sekagya, and Thierry Henry came in for the injured Tim Cahill.
  • NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-4-2): Luis Robles - Kosuke Kimura, Jamison Olave, Markus Holgersson (Matt Miazga 76), David Carney - Lloyd Sam, Dax McCarty, Eric Alexander (Peguy Luyindula 70), Jonny Steele - Thierry Henry, Bradley Wright-Phillips (Michael Bustamante 90).
  • It was a second consecutive win for the Red Bulls, and also ended a two-game losing run on their travels, in keeping pace atop the Eastern Conference.
  • "Here we had the run of play a lot of the game, but certainly they did, too," said Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke. "We just wanted to get our defensive shape right: start our two forwards at the top of the circle and 35 yards back is our back four and in between that is crunching them when they come in there. Whereas in the past, perhaps, after the first 5-6 minutes we get away from that, guys stuck with it. We stayed with it and they did the right things and we were able to one-two punch them on a bit of a counter or just effective finishing."
  • Said Jonny Steele: "It's probably one of the better 90-minute performances on the road we've put in. People doubted us on the road, but we had to build on last week, build on this week and weíve got six games left. So we've got to keep going and push for the Supporters' Shield."
  • Thierry Henry scored a goal and added an assist, now tied for the club lead with eight goals while also leading with eight assists.
  • "Every game going into now, we're treating as a playoff game and itís defending from the front and every player doing their job," Steele said. "As you've seen today, Titi and Brad started it."
  • Henry returned to the starting lineup after coming off the substitutes' bench vs. D.C. United the week before. It was his first match with Bradley Wright-Phillips as the strike partnership.
  • "Bradley and Thierry definitely had a good understanding with each other," Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke said. "When one was going long, one was coming short. They were playing off each other nicely as far as flicking on. But at the end of the day, for me, tonight for both Thierry and Bradley, the defensive part of is what really stuck out in my mind. Their willingness to be a part of it as a team was great."
  • Steele also contributed a goal and an assist, and has assists in consecutive games. He has started 25 of 27 league games this season.
  • Matt Miazga made his full professional debut, coming into central defense in place of Markus Holgersson for the final quarter-hour.
  • "The centerbacks were rocks at the back, fullbacks done their jobs. It was perfect," Lloyd Sam said. "[Goalkeeper Luis Robles] chipped in with an important save, especially in the first half."
Toronto FC had their winless run extended to six matches, reaching a 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire on Wednesday evening at BMO Field. TFC sit in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 23 points from 28 matches.
  • Both goals came in a four-minute span midway through the first half. The Fire opened the scoring in the 20th minute when Dilly Duka chipped a pass from outside the area toward Mike Magee, racing toward goal. Magee could not reach the pass, but the ball bounced past TFC 'keeper Joe Bendik and into the net.
  • Toronto equalized three minutes later when Robert Earnshaw received a ball on the right of the Fire box from winger Bobby Convey, then showed great poise while waiting for a Chicago defender to commit before he blasted his shot past goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
  • TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen made four changes to the team that fell 4-0 to the Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field. Doneil Henry, Ashtone Morgan and Jonathan Osorio all returned from international duty and Bobby Convey came back into the team, in place of Gale Agbossoumonde, Jonas Elmer, Darel Russell and Reggie Lambe.
  • TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Joseph Bendik - Richard Eckersley, Doneil Henry, Steven Caldwell, Ashtone Morgan - Alvaro Rey (Jonas Elmer 90), Jonathan Osorio, Jeremy Hall, Bobby Convey ñ Andrew Wiedeman (Bright Dike 75), Robert Earnshaw (Justin Braun 25).
  • Toronto FC saw their winless streak hit six games following back-to-back victories on July 27-Aug. 4, their only consecutive wins this season. It was a second consecutive draw for TFC at BMO Field.
  • With a loss to the New York Red Bulls on Saturday evening, Toronto FC will officially be eliminated from playoff contention. The club has never reached the MLS Cup Playoffs in its history.
  • "What I love about the guys is that we were the team that should have been falling over and not making those runs and not working hard considering our position [in the standings] and their position," TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen said. "Besides the first 20 minutes, I think any neutrals watching the game would not have known which team was really pushing for that playoff spot."
  • Toronto FC had their entire Canadian national team contingent back again after they were released following the first of two friendlies against Mauritania in Spain. All three -- Doneil Henry, Ashtone Morgan and Jonathan Osorio -- returned to the lineup.
  • "I think the Canada boys got back late and we played a team that was desperate to win obviously to push for the playoffs," said Nelsen. "So they came out buzzing and we came out so, as it took us 15-20 minutes to find our legs. I thought we did well to weather the storm."
  • Robert Earnshaw scored his first goal since June 15, scoring his seventh of the season to pull TFC level. But he was forced from the field almost immediately after suffering an injury on the goal-scoring play.
  • "He felt his hamstring tweak a bit, but I donít think it is anything major. It was one of those little tweaks where if you keep going youíll probably tear it," said Nelsen. "It was smart to come off. He got his goal and you can see where he kind of planted his foot, he kind of felt a strain."
  • Said Earnshaw: "It was a different (hamstring) today. This was due to the ground giving way and made me over stretch. That was more annoying because it wasn't like I was sprinting or anything like that. ... We will see as I think I will be very doubtful for New York and weíll see how it recovers over the next 10 days."
  • Bobby Convey recorded his fourth assist since coming to TFC from Sporting KC, his first since racking up a pair of assists in the 2-1 win vs. Columbus on July 27.
  • "We had four 2v1s," Nelsen said. "At this level you have to take them. If we had taken one of them I think the game would have been won comfortably ... It is just about taking the right options. Unfortunately, we had a few of them that we didn't take. They were extremely good chances. They were the best chances of the game. It was basic kind of stuff, which is frustrating."
  • Bright Dike, acquired just days before from the Portland Timbers, made his TFC debut, coming on for the final quarter-hour. Dike was making his MLS debut for this season after undergoing offseason knee surgery.
  • "Bright is only seven months off an ACL injury, so we will be careful with him," Nelsen said. "That is an incredibly quick period of time if you compare that to other people [who have that injury]. He is here for the long term, so I donít want to throw him into the hard rigors of MLS when he has only played 80 minutes with the reserve team."

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