Preview: New York Red Bulls at Toronto FC

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by MARK FISHKIN

After throwing away two points in their last league outing, the Red Bulls head North to take on a red-hot Toronto FC side that has what New York wants… that number one spot.

The Red Bulls rebounded from last week’s disappointing home draw with DC to snatch a late Champions League victory on Thursday night. With starters returning from suspension and injury, the New York looks to be at full strength for their only visit to BMO Field this regular season. With a in-form Jozy Altidore and possibly a return for Giovinco, Sunday’s match will go a long way to deciding who will grab home-field for the looming playoffs.


Match Information

Sunday, September 1th at BMO Field, 5pm ET Kickoff (not 7pm as originally scheduled)

TV/Streaming: FOX (proper, not FS1)/Fox Sports Go

Red Bulls Radio: TuneIn App and www.newyorkredbulls.com/matchday/radio

Referee: Robert Sibiga

Record: GF/GA, Division & League Position, Current League Form

Toronto: 46 points from 28 gms, 41GF/29GA,  1st in East, t-3rd in MLS, DWWLW

New York: 44 points from 29 gms, 49GF/37GA,  t-2nd in East, t-5th in MLS, WDWWD


Projected Lineups

Toronto FC

TFCvNY

New York

NYvTFC


The Reds’ Attack vs. the New York defense

Mo Babouli and Jozy Altidore vs. Kemar Lawrence, Aurelien Collin, Damien Perrinelle, Chris Duvall, and Luis Robles

Without Giovinco and Tosaint Ricketts, who is out with a groin injury, TFC coach Greg Vanney may go with homegrown Mo Babouli (1 A in 14 appearances) to run alongside the blazing-hot Altidore. Since July 31st, the former Red Bull has racked up six goals and an assist in eight matches, and may be in his best form since returning to MLS in 2015. New York’s defense was mostly stout last week in the 2-2 draw with DC, but ran out of gas in the waning minutes and conceded two preventable goals.  With Ronald Zubar still ailing, look for a less-ailing Perrinelle to take his place. Robles deserved better than a draw last Sunday, and sparkled in Thursday’s Concacaf win, with two stellar saves.

Advantage: Even


The Red Bulls’ forward vs. the Toronto back line

Bradley Wright-Phillips vs. Justin Morrow, Drew Moor, Eriq Zavaleta, Steven Beitashour, and Alex Bono

BWP’s form exceeds that of Altidore’s, with nine goals and an assist in his last eight league matches. Wright-Phillips has scored in five straight games. Only Colorado has allowed fewer goals that the Reds this season, and Toronto’s experienced back line is the reason why. Justin Morrow (3G/2A) has been an cornerstone for TFC for the last three seasons. Small at centerback at only 6′ 0″, Moor (3G) has played in 330 league matches over thirteen seasons. The youngest on Toronto’s back line, 24 year-old Zavaleta (1A) has bounced from Seattle to Chivas to Toronto in his short career. California born but Iran International Steven Beitashour (1A) is a quality crosser of the ball.  With Clint Irwin nearly back from injury, the Reds may continue with 2015 first-round draft pick Alex Bono in goal. Bono has been fantastic for Toronto with an 8-3-3 record, a GAA under one, and three clean sheets as a backup.

Advantage: Even


The Midfields

Will Johnson, Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio, and Marky Delgado vs. Mike Grella, Felipe, Sacha Kljestan, Dax McCarty, and Daniel Royer

Canadian International Johnson (2G/5A) has two assists in four matches after coming back from injury. Former MetroStar Bradley’s numbers (3A) are off this season from last’s year’s five-goal, six -assist mark due to his time with the USMNT. The homegrown Osorio (1G/3A) scored the game winner last week in Chicago, and has started Toronto’s last eight matches. Marky Delgado (2G/2A) was a Chivas USA homegrown before coming to the Reds in 2015. New York’s wing midfielders haven’t found the net in a while. Look for Daniel Royer, who was so impactful against DC, to get the call again at right wing in place of Alex Muyl, who played the full ninety against Alianza. Felipe, of the seemingly limitless engine, will start as well. Dax McCarty is back after sitting out last week against DC. Thursday’s night’s hero Sacha Kljestan is undoubtedly the engine that makes the Red Bulls go. The Kljestan/Bradley battle will determine the outcome of the match.

Advantage: Even


The Coaches

Greg Vanney has his team on course for a second consecutive playoff berth, and almost assuredly a first-round bye. His squad, even without Giovinco for the last three matches, have been playing well. The TFC stars have been in top form, and the defense has been terrific. Jesse Marsch’s calm after last week’s blown lead unnerved a segment of the fan base, but he knows that the true test awaits in the post-season. A nervy Champions League win will take a bit of the edge off the New York coach, and taking at least a point at BMO would be a big accomplishment.

Advantage: Even


Intangibles

Both of these teams come into Sunday’s match on a massive heads of steam. Toronto is 7-1-1 in their last league matches, and New York is 7-0-7 in all competitions since July 4th. The Reds are 7-2-3 at BMO, while the Red Bulls are undefeated in five (1-0-4) away from Harrison. The two teams have played twice before this season: TFC beat New York in the season opener 2-0, and the Red Bulls returned the favor 3-0 on Memorial Day Weekend, with both games at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls have a decent 3-5-4 record in Toronto, but haven’t won there since April of 2013. In a scheduling twist, the two teams are meeting for only the second time North of the border over the last six series matches since June of 2014. BWP has six goals over the last five matches in the series. The last time the two met in Toronto, Giovinco came into the match directly off a flight from Italy and scored one of the iconic goals of the 2015 season.

Advantage: Even


Prediction

Should Giovinco enter the match in the late stages, a boosted TFC will likely find a way to take the points. New York has the talent to get a result, if they can  re-wire their brains to play through the final whistle without self-destructing. The Red Bulls will hang tough, but succumb when Giovinco takes the field in the last twenty minutes. Toronto wins 3-1.

  • EnglishRBNY

    3-1. Behave!

  • Johann Neeskens

    What are the Red Bulls–Toronto doing on FOX? Shouldn’t there be a NFL game on? WOW, guess it really is MAJOR LEAGUE soccer.

    Where are the Cosmos??? How come they’re not on a MAJOR NETWORK??? Why is America being denied the right to see the Cosmos playing in the only authentic league in the country???

    I don’t get it.