HARRISON, N.J. – They may not have made it easy on themselves, but the New York Red Bulls once again sit alone atop the Eastern Conference after topping Toronto FC 2-0 at Red Bull Arena on Saturday night.
Thierry Henry and Fabian Espindola scored on either side of halftime and New York’s defense held firm against a TFC side that matched the Red Bulls blow-for-blow until late in the second half.
New York move three points clear of the Montreal Impact with the win, but have played two more matches than the Canadian club. Toronto FC, meanwhile, fall to 4-14-11 on the year with the loss.
Henry netted the opener and eventual game-winner in the 32nd minute. Rookie central midfielder Michael Bustamante, making his first pro start, hit a penetrating pass in behind the Toronto defense that Dax McCarty received before unleashing a low cross to Henry for the easy tap-in from close range.
New York came close to doubling their advantage in the 66th minute, but a headed effort from Bradley Wright-Phillips was parried away well by Toronto FC goalkeeper Joe Bendik.
The insurance goal woud eventually come ten minutes from time, though. Shortly after replacing Wright-Phillips, Espindola found the back of the net with an impressive header from what looked like an impossible angle.
The play came on a immediately following a controversial incident in which TFC midfielder Jonathan Osorio booted a ball into the head of a prone Kosuke Kimura after the Japanese defender had been fouled. Osorio escaped punishment, but some fine work from McCarty and Jamison Olave on the restart after a short delay enabled Espindola to head the ball back across goal and see it settle it he back of the net.
Toronto FC, who started the match impressively and with plenty of energy, fought hard for much of the 90 minutes but were missing the requisite quality in front of goal. The closest TFC came to finding a goal was on a shot from substitute Bright Dike late in the second half that did New York 'keeper Luis Robles saved capably.
The Red Bulls return to action with a home game against FC Dallas on Sept. 22, while Toronto FC host Eastern Conference foe Sporting Kansas City a day earlier.
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by email at Franco8813@gmail.com.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Thierry Henry||Got the goal and was New York's prime attacking outlet on a night when his teammates were not as sharp as they could've been|
|2||Dax McCarty||His typical, bustling self in the middle of the park. Distributed well, assisted on Henry's goal, recovered plenty of balls, and made it hard for TFC to create through the middle|
|3||Jamison Olave||Cleaned up almost everything that got through the midfield thanks to his pace and power. Made sure Robles had a fairly straightforward night|