May is usually when the New York Red Bulls hit their stride: a long unbeaten run before some frustrating results in the summer. For their lucky fans, summer came early, as New York was played off the pitch in Toronto, suffering their second straight loss. The 2-0 result at BMO Field was the first time Toronto had gotten a win over RBNY since 2009.
Blurgh. For anyone expecting a rebound performance after last week's 5-4 disaster at home, we're sorry. New York came out slow, flat, and poorly. It's hard to pick out anyone who deserves plaudits across a Red Bulls lineup that was poor from back to front.
Goalkeeper Luis Robles made one fine save, but his performance otherwise has raised alarms that his drop in form may be something more serious. The defense continued their mental lapses that are either giving up penalties or easy goals. The midfield spine was easily broken down without Tim Cahill (international duty) and Peguy Luyindula (a late scratch due to injury) - Dax McCarty does not look like himself this year. The flanks saw Lloyd Sam and Jonny Steele pump wasted cross after wasted cross into the box. The attack couldn't find their final touch and logged only a single shot on goal the entire night.
By comparison, Toronto looked well composed for most of the game. For a team that had just played 120 minutes late Wednesday night in Vancouver, you'd think they were the ones on full rest - not New York.
Jermaine Defoe is pretty good. Much was made this week of Toronto's Jermaine Defoe being left off the English national team World Cup roster. With Defoe saying he was "devastated", it figured that he would want to put on a show, and his opening goal was equal parts pure skill and New York train-wreck.
Trying to work the ball up the right side, Lloyd Sam faced pressure from Toronto's midfield. Sam played the ball back to Kosuke Kimura, who made a quick pass to Dax McCarty. Dax was unable to control the pass, getting immediately dispossessed by Toronto's Bradley Orr. Orr took a touch and played a through ball to a streaking Defoe, and the counter attack was on. With most of the Red Bulls upfield, and with only Armando with any chance of closing him down, Defoe ripped a shot from just inside the 18-yard box past Luis Robles.
A great night for the blooper reel. There are a lot of moments we'd like to forget from this one. Kosuke Kimura trying an overhead kick and nearly taking himself out. Eric Alexander having a clear shot and opting to lay the ball off. Bradley Wright-Phillips missing a wide open net from six yards.
But those pale in comparison to the second goal, coming four minutes into second half stoppage time. A long ball over the top saw Toronto's Luke Moore in a foot race with RBNY rookie Chris Duvall. Luis Robles opted to come out to try and control the play, but his jump got none of the ball and all of Duvall. As Robles and Duvall tried to pull themselves off the field, Moore simply dribbled the ball into the net.
The loss pushes the Red Bulls below .500 with a 3-4-5 record.
At last, the 2014 edition of the Hipster Derby! The Portland Timbers come to town on Saturday. We've been quietly lobbying for it since 2011, but RBNY vs. Portland is consistently the best cross-conference match every year. Controversial red cards, phantom goals, and wild late-game heroics have marked their past four meetings. With both teams struggling this year after finishing atop their respective conferences in 2013, it will feel like a do or die match for both sides.
Coach Mike Petke on the match: "For us, it was a tale of two halves. First half, we were behind the ball a bit. We gave them a lot with our terrible passing, and they capitalized on it with the goal. We were still in it completely in the second half. We had the better of the play - well, we had more of the ball in the second half. Just couldn't find the equalizer. We had some pretty clear chances, and sure enough late in the game, we're pushing everybody forward, they get the second goal."
Thierry Henry: "Once again, we concede an early goal. We lost the ball and conceded a counter attack away from home. Jermaine Defoe took his finish very well but after that I felt we controlled the game. We had a lot of the ball but it just didn’t go our way and again on the counter attack at the end. They defended well so fair play to them and they have been playing very well at the moment."
Dax McCarty on slow starts: "It seems like when we get our backs against the wall, we come out and play and play a little bit better. We don’t understand why we come out and start so poorly and when you are on the road, the last thing you want to do is concede an early goal and give the home team confidence. Obviously, they did not do too much after the goal but it was more of a battle than anything."
- The Red Bulls found out their potential first opponents in the 2014 US Open Cup: either the Brooklyn Italians of the NPSL, or (more fascinatingly) the New York Cosmos of the NASL. If the Italians advance, the game will be held in Harrison, but the Cosmos would host if they advance out of the third round. The match date is yet to be determined.
- Thierry Henry reversed his years old stance of disliking most social media and finally joined Twitter this week.
- One more for the list of summer friendlies at Red Bull Arena: Bayern Munich will take on Chivas Guadalajara on July 31st.
Next Match: Saturday, May 24th 7:00 PM, vs Portland (TV: MSG)