The New York Red Bulls got two first-half goals and then held on to win 2-1 over Toronto FC on Sunday at Red Bull Arena, to spoil TFC's Supporters' Shield bid while putting themselves in a more advantageous playoff position.
RBNY overtook the New England Revolution, 2-0 losers in Philadelphia, to clinch the No. 6 seed in the East on the final day. That allows the Red Bulls to bypass the Play-In matches and advance directly into Round One, where they'll travel to meet No. 3 seed Columbus Crew SC. Meanwhile, Toronto FC finished No. 2 in the East and they will be facing an opponent from the Play-In matches in Round One.
The Red Bulls got its attack rolling midway through the first half, with forward Tom Barlow testing Toronto 'keeper Quentin Westberg on a 23rd-minute shot. Less than a minute later, on a corner kick sent in by Florian Valot, Barlow headed past Westberg at the far post for the opener. Then, two minutes later, fellow RBNY forward Brian White finished off a break with his fifth goal of the season to double the score.
Toronto FC got one back early in the second half, however, when a lively Nick DeLeon put a shot on frame. Goalkeeper Ryan Meara was able to save the initial shot, but he was helpless against Tsubasa Endoh's putback to get TFC on the scoreboard.
Despite Jozy Altidore coming on for Toronto as a second-half sub, and the visitors creating chances in the final third, the Red Bulls were able to hold on with tenacious defense—including defending three TFC corner kicks in a row during stoppage time.
- THE BIG PICTURE: For the Red Bulls, who won three and drew three of their last seven matches to close out the season, 6th place will feel like a great achievement. Slotting straight into Round One and avoiding the play-in portion of the playoffs is something the Red Bulls will welcome. For TFC, who came close to a Supporters' Shield in a year during which they had to make a second home in East Hartford, it's a bittersweet end to the regular season. But they're built for the playoffs — assuming the injury that took Richie Laryea out in the late first half isn't a serious one.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The corner kick sequence in stoppage time was indicative of the Red Bulls' second-half. They stood up to the test that TFC threw at them and preserved the one-goal lead.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Meara was huge in the second half, registering four saves in the match and keeping the defense cohesive down the stretch.
- RBNY: at Columbus Crew SC | Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs Round One Match
- TOR: vs. highest-seeded Play-In winner | Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs Round One Match