September 14, 2013: Red Bulls 2, Toronto FC 0
It wasn't pretty, but it worked.
The Red Bulls extended their winning streak to three games, took sole possession of first place and vaulted to second place in the league with last night's 2-0 win over Toronto FC.
It wasn't the game many were expecting the Red Bulls to play, especially after eviscerating the Houston Dynamo in Houston last week. Much of it was ugly, the Canadian side got more than a few good chances and saw a good amount of the ball. If fans were expecting Mike Petke and company to beat down a Toronto team mired in turmoil, that's not what they got.
What they did get were two brilliant moments, that ended up sealing the deal for the home team. The first from rookie Michael Bustamante. The former Boston University Terrier earned his first ever MLS start, and took advantage of the situation, threading the needle to midfield partner Dax McCarty, who fed the ball to Thierry Henry to set up the game's first goal.
Roughly 50 minutes later, Fabian Espindola put the game out of reach with a header that was nothing if not lucky. But a goal is a goal and in what's been something of a tough year for the Argentine striker, it was nice to see him lose his mind after scoring. You get the sense that he didn't even know how he pulled that goal off.
The rest of the game wasn't great. Jonny Steele couldn't hit a decent cross and put in one of the lesser performances is what's been a breakout year for the Irishman. Jonathan Osorio deserved at least a yellow for attempting to clear the ball out of the building off Kosuke Kimura's head, but somehow, inexplicably, didn't.
Putting aside all negatives, though, in a league with as much parity as MLS, a win is a win. You can rarely count on a 4-0 rout simply because one team is at the top of the table and the other team is at the bottom. The important thing is that the Red Bulls found a way to get it done, which sometimes is more important than doing it well.