Last week, we remarked that consistency is a hard thing to find in Major League Soccer. We didn't need any more evidence, but the Red Bulls were happy to provide it, going from dominating the Eastern Conference leaders last week to getting outplayed by 9th place Toronto FC in a dull 0-0 draw at BMO Field.
Luis Robles. About the only member of the Red Bulls who opted to show up, Robles had three saves, including a beautiful (and extremely lucky) save on Richard Eckersley to keep the clean sheet.
The East remains mostly stagnant. Montreal and Philly, closest to the Red Bulls on the table, also couldn't do better than a 0-0 draw, so New York's position remains unchanged.
Not winning a winnable game. The general metric for a good season is "win at home, draw on the road", so under normal circumstances, this is a fine result. But when you're dealing with a team like Toronto FC - who has won just twice this year, who turns over their roster faster than any other team in the league - expectations are higher. This should have been three points - and now pressure is higher to get results over the next two weeks against Real Salt Lake and Kansas City, who lead both of their respective conferences.
Toronto's system worked. Coach Ryan Nelsen credited his players knowing "the system" of shutting down talented players in keeping New York from looking dangerous. "We wanted to get Tim Cahill receiving balls from the centre backs," said Nelsen, "and we wanted to get Thierry Henry receiving the ball from a center midfielder kind of deeper and as far away from our goal." If double teaming the designated players is all it takes to stop the Red Bulls, then the team has become too predictable and easy to stop. It was the sixth time this year that New York has been shut out.
No heart, no effort, no logic. Coach Mike Petke said it all: "Not impressive, not impressive at all. Toronto had the right mentality, we didn’t. We play this game on paper we win this game, but this game is not played on paper, this game is played with heart, effort, logic and Toronto had all of those categories today so in a way I feel fortunate we got a point."
The yo-yo continues. For the fifth straight game, New York had a 0 on the end of the scoreline that didn't the week before. The team has been shut out three straight times on the road (Philly, Colorado, Toronto) and shut out their last two opponents at home (Houston, Montreal). The only possible upshot of this would be if it means they shut out RSL at home next week - but don't hold your breath for that one.
Real Salt Lake come to town, giving Fabian Espindola, Jamison Olave, and Jonny Steele all a chance to face their former club. RBNY have not logged a victory against RSL since April 2009, getting only one point (a 0-0 draw in 2010) in six matches since. The last time Jason Kreis' side came to Red Bull Arena, the visitors had three goals inside of twenty minutes. Expect a battle in Harrison.
Coach Mike Petke: "It’s bittersweet because we’re angry not to take three points, but by the way we played we are fortunate to get a point out of this game. Going into a huge game next week at home, coming off a 4-0 thrashing of Montreal firing on all cylinders, then to come here and play like this I am honestly confused. I will throw a cliché out there: it is back to the drawing board."
Defender Kosuke Kimura: "Definitely good to get a point for sure, but I think we could have got two more we should have had three today. I think we came out strong in the first half had some good chances in the first ten minutes but I think with our mistakes we gave them the confidence to play. Other than that we defended well as a unit, but the field was narrow and a bit dry and we couldn’t have good possession going forward. Other than that we worked hard, defended well, and you can see that people can battle and you have to. Toronto were up for it and we have one point which is better than 0."
Luis Robles on his big save: "I was going in the right direction, then the ball deflected and luckily it was far enough from me that I was able to get enough on it to change the direction of the ball."
This Week: Tuesday, July 16th 8:00 PM, vs Olympique Lyonnais (TV: MSG); Saturday, July 20th 4 PM, at Toronto (TV: MSG)