(HARRISON, NJ) New York may not have defeated Toronto FC Friday night, but drawing the hottest team in MLS was a feat unattainable in the minds of fans earlier this week. Toronto FC started slow, and the Red Bulls took advantage sneaking a goal on a set piece. Toronto took over from that point, but they could not find the win, despite getting the result. The Red Bulls had a lot of interesting talking points, but here is what I saw.
New York Red Bulls Draw Toronto FC, Halt Win Streak
The Red Bulls needed to start the game well. Last week’s game against the Galaxy is all the evidence you need. When they started against Toronto, there was a fire in their belly that was missing from two of their last three matches. Interestingly enough, there were two big changes the team was dealing with. A change in formation, eschewing the 4-2-3-1 for a offense focused 4-1-3-2, and a change in personnel.
Mike Grella, Fredrik Gulbrandsen, and Michael Murillo replaced Sean Davis, Daniel Royer, and Connor Lade. All three players held tactical advantages against Toronto. New York signaled their intentions to attack the wings with their lineup. They also sat back a bit more and waited for quick strike opportunities. It nearly paid off in the run of play too. Gulbrandsen forced Bono into a good save midway through the first half.
Eventually, the Red Bulls found the opener through a set piece. Fredrik Gulbrandsen found Wright-Phillips at the back post. The striker struck the ball with an overhead kick to put the Red Bulls up 1-0.
The Red Bulls tried hard in the second half to give the game away. With the lead, the Red Bulls started to make costly errors in their own half. Ill-advised fouls and turnovers were the main culprits. One such foul led to Toronto’s equalizer. Just like the Red Bulls goal, the ball ping-pong’d around the box, eventually finding the head of Benoit Cheyrou. Luis Robles could do nothing about it.
The half continued to perplex and amaze as time passed. First, Damien Perrinelle conceded a penalty after Jozy Altidore seemed to have fouled Aaron Long to start a breakaway. Robles saved the penalty.
Numerous times, too many to count, the Red Bulls scrambled in their box to keep Jozy Altidore and Tosaint Ricketts from open chances. Toronto even scored the go ahead goal, only for it to be called back. Desperate defending nearly sunk the team throughout the half. Such proclivities could well be the downfall of this team all season long.
The Return Of RBA
Red Bull Arena came alive. Not all at once. When Luis Robles saved the penalty, the building woke up from a slumber. The noise reached levels that had been missing for weeks. The stadium engaged with the team because the team played an exciting match. It was a welcome sound for the team, and the fans. An affirmation that each would continue to hold up their end of the bargain.
Photo credit: Bill Twomey Photography