Sunday, July 1, 2012

No Satisfaction: Red Bulls Settle for 1-1 Draw in Toronto

Henry Congratulates Solli on His Second Goal in Two Games
A stuttering, disjointed display in Toronto on Saturday was only enough to earn the New York Red Bulls a 1-1 draw and a single point, as they fell behind DC United atop the Eastern Conference standings (albeit with a game still in hand). 

Things looked promising early, after Jan Gunnar Solli converted an inch-perfect cross from Brandon Barklage in just the 4th minute of the game. But New York fell asleep on the re-start, allowing TFC to earn an easy corner that resulted in the equalizer.  Danny Koevermans somehow found himself completely unmarked in the Red Bulls' 18-yard box and rose to meet Torsten Frings' cross. Post-game analysis and discussion seemed to indicate that marking Koevermans was Jan Gunnar Solli's responsibility, so it may well have been a case of "Solli giveth and Solli taketh away."

For the remainder of the first half, Toronto largely dominated possession, but had few good scoring opportunities. The Red Bulls, meanwhile, couldn't get hold of the ball in midfield, and Thierry Henry started to drift further and further back to start attacks - never a good sign. Joel Lindpere found himself in the unusual role of central attacking midfielder, and it's fair to say that he looks much more at home on the left wing. On the right side, Dane Richards had one of his poorest games of the season. His speed was of little use up against the equally fast Ashtone Morgan, and when Richards did get into good positions, he either lost the ball or made a poor decision.

The Red Bulls had much more of the ball after the break, but could not find a way past TFC keeper Milos Kocic. Their best chance came from a long Lindpere cross that bounced in the penalty area and may have been touched by Kenny Cooper before striking the post. Later, Henry sailed one over the bar on a trademark quickly-taken free kick. Later, the Red Bulls had a shout for a penalty when Lindpere got cleared out on a dangerous tackle, but referee Ricardo Salazar waved play on.

At the other end, TFC had chances of their own, most notably from the dangerous Koevermans, who stabbed a shot just wide of Ryan Meara's post. In the dying minutes of the game, substitute Stephen Keel saved the Red Bulls' bacon when he made a magnificent clearance of a TFC cross that seemed bound for the foot of the lurking Koevermans, and probably the back of the net.

In the end, it was a less than satisfactory result against a Toronto team that has been a disaster for most of the season, even if they have pulled things together since the departure of Aron Winter. More troubling than the result, perhaps, is the health of Heath Pearce, who appeared to go down late with a hamstring injury. The Red Bulls will hope that Pearce is back in time for next Sunday's game in New England. Remember - New York hasn't won at Gillette Stadium in ten years.

After the New England match RBNY returns home for three straight games in seven days, against Seattle, Chicago and Philadelphia.
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