Red Bulls Earn Hard Fought Draw With Toronto FC

USA Today

HARRISON, NJ – It was hard to tell which temperature was hotter on Friday night, the weather or the seat Red Bull New York was in. Coming into the night, RBNY had lost three consecutive matches, and dropped from second to sixth in the Eastern Conference. Despite being without league MVP Sebastian Giovinco, Toronto FC came into the match with a record of 7-1-4. For awhile it appeared as if the hosts would come away with an improbable victory, but happily settled for a 1-1 draw after the dust settled.
The pre-match ceremonies perfectly encompassed the Red Bulls’ recent struggles as the grounds crew failed to unfurl the team logo at midfield multiple times before ultimately getting it correct. Jesse Marsch’s decision to utilize two strikers, at the expense of a defensive midfielder, didn’t help ease fans’ nerves prior to playing the offensively-gifted Toronto side.
Despite the potent 4-1-3-2 formation, New York struggled to generate much offense in the first half. However, that all changed on one of the most electrifying plays of the year from one of the most electrifying players in the league, Bradley Wright-Phillips.
A free kick from Sacha Kljestan found Fredrik Gulbrandsen’s head at the right side of the box. The Austrian striker crossed it behind his partner, but the greatest goal scorer in RBNY history pulled a bicycle out of his toolbox and slotted the overhead kick into the net in the 38th minute. The Englishman’s goal, the 74th of his Red Bulls career, will be situated right near the top of his personal highlight reel, and it gave the hosts a 1-0 lead at the end of the first half.
A late injury to Gulbrandsen saw him removed at halftime in favor of, the out-of-favor, Sean Davis to start the second. Benoit Cheyrou, who came on for Toronto only minutes before, tied the match in the 70th minute with a well placed header to the left of Luis Robles. The goal, the Canadian’s first of the year, was indirectly set up by an unnecessary foul from Michael Amir Murillo – who was making is first MLS start. The ensuing free kick led to the match-tying play.
The match took on a second life after that goal. Toronto was awarded a very controversial penalty in the 82nd minute when Damien Perrinelle got called for a penalty after taking Toissant Ricketts in the box. However, the entire Red Bulls team was incensed that the play was not called dead only moments before when Jozy Altidore took down Aaron Long. Robles, who was the main protestor, calmed himself down and stunningly stopped the US National Team striker’s penalty with a diving save to his left.
Only five minutes later it appeared as if the visitors took the lead when Ricketts hammered home a rebound to give Toronto a 2-1 lead. Amidst the celebrations, it was hard to hear the referee’s whistle. A little-known offsides rule was called, as Ricketts’ teammate, who was offside, obscured Robles’ field of vision right before the goal. It was a truly wild finish, and it featured a lengthy shoe-tying incident that set Marsch aflame to the point that he offered Michael Bradley water in an effort to “give him whatever he needed to play.”
The 1-1 draw gave New York a much-needed point, though they still remain winless in their last four. Next up, they host the New England Revolution on Saturday the 26th.