Thursday, July 7, 2011

Red Bulls 5 Toronto FC 0: New York ♥ TFC

RBNY (and Agudelo) Fans Have a Reason to Celebrate (Photo by Dan Dickinson)
Toronto FC (and its dwindling number of traveling fans) must absolutely dread coming to New York to play the Red Bulls. Who can forget the 5-0 thrashing in the rain that brought down the curtain on Giants Stadium, when Macoumba Kandji and Juan Pablo Angel ran riot, splashing through puddles on their way to destroying the Reds' playoff hopes? For RBNY fans that was like taking a long cool shower after a bloody mess of a season, and the perfect way to bring down the house. It was also satisfying to send supporters who thought that unveiling this would be funny back home in misery, with - hopefully - a full cavity search at the border crossing waiting for them.

The misery continued last night at Red Bull Arena, as an admittedly thin Toronto FC squad, without its two shiny new designated player signings, once again got walloped 5-0, thanks to four goals from RBNY's front line and another by the newly minted MLS Player of the Week Joel Lindpere. More importantly for Red Bulls fans, the win propelled New York - temporarily at least - above Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference standings and emphatically snapped their recent winless streak. Equally encouraging was the clean sheet kept by Greg Sutton, albeit with help from his goalposts on two occasions. The 5-0 result ranks as the most lopsided win for the Red Bulls since moving to Harrison. Only the 4-1 friendly victory over Juventus comes close, and that was an exhibition match. [Ed. - my friend Ben Schneider corrects me - RBNY/Juve finished 3-1 to the Red Bulls, so even that was not close.]

Who stood out for the Red Bulls? First and foremost there's Lindpere, who, in addition to continuing to chip in with goals, played provider on two occasions. Then there's Luke Rodgers, whose first half golazo of a volley put New York firmly in charge. Henry led proceedings magnificently, while Juan Agudelo showed how valuable he can be off the bench, with a pair of second half strikes, including a towering header from, yes  - shock, horror - a corner kick. Credit should also go to Jan Gunnar Solli, who was dangerous all night bombing forward on the right flank, even if he had trouble at times with TFC's pint-sized Joao Plata.

A few more observations:
  • The Red Bulls wore all white for the second time in three matches (they did the same in Chicago). For a uniform purist like me, who thinks that a team playing at home should always wear their first choice home strip (for the Red Bulls that would be red shorts/white shirt/white socks), the decision by clubs like TFC and Chicago to switch to an all-white away kit is regrettable. While I understand wanting to keep players cool during the summer months, there have to be more creative design options in a league that already has too many white kits. Get on it, Adidas!
  • Hans Backe finally made an early sub, bringing Rodgers off in the 56th minute for Agudelo. It wasn't a tactical sub as much as it was an acknowledgement that Henry/Rodgers is far and away RBNY's best starting tandem - one that Backe will be using again on Saturday when DC United visits. Brian Lewis of the Post breaks down the Henry/Rodgers numbers in his match report.
  • The Red Bulls now lead the league in goals scored (34). Dallas is eight goals back at 26, with one fewer game played. RBNY's goal differential of +11 is one better than the Los Angeles Galaxy. 
  • While there has been a lot said and written about the high number of turgid 0-0 draws in MLS this season, the Red Bulls cannot be accused of playing a boring brand of soccer. In fact, the 0-0 game at Columbus in Week 2 is RBNY's only scoreless affair this season. 
  • Luke Rodgers now has six goals and three assists. Landon Donovan may want to start looking over his shoulder. Lindpere is on five goals and five assists, while Solli leads RBNY in helpers, with six assists from the right back position.
The Red Bulls now have short rest before the visit of DC this weekend. Can they keep up their scoring pace against DC's shaky back line? Can they keep another clean sheet against a club whose star striker is skilled in the dark art of "embellishing?" Give us your thoughts below.
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