Alas, back-to-back victories- a taste of consistency. The Red Bulls followed up a 4-1 demolition of the New England Revolution in style, beating Toronto FC at BMO Field courtesy of a Tim Cahill brace. It's not easy to point at one specific factor of the game and delegate it as 'decisive.' Perhaps it was those mustard shorts that won us the glorious Emirates Cup(!), or Roy Miller not screwing the team over with a late-game defensive lapse. Perhaps it was Ashtone Morgan's botched clearance that led to Cahill's second goal in the 90th minute. Or was it the fact that the Red Bulls might have been more inclined to extend their seven game unbeaten streak over Toronto to eight games more than anything? It's a win, nonetheless- an important win, one that propels Red Bulls to second in the Eastern Conference (at least, for now.)
Luis Robles (5.5)- It seems as if every time Robles takes one step forward, he takes two steps backwards. Robles had no business coming out on the set piece that led to Toronto's goal, and made me cringe every time he handled the ball with his feet. Don't know how many self-implosions it's going to take before Petke gives Hartman or Meara (when fit) the starting job.
Roy Miller (7)- I think it's time that Red Bulls' fans, including myself, stop putting Miller at the butt of their jokes, even though it's hard not to pile the blame on to a scapegoat when the team fails to deliver. Great run down the flank to set up Cahill's first goal, and relatively solid throughout the game.
Jamison Olave (7)- Impressive defensive work-rate, coming off an injury that benched him for two games. Dealt with any danger posed by Toronto's attack, and made a few important aerial clearances.
Markus Holgersson (6.5)- Wasn't thoroughly impressed with the Swede defender. Didn't really make his presence known, and lost his marker a couple times. Decent distribution out of the back.
Brandon Barklage (6.5)- Overlapped well on the right side, and solid defensively. Quiet, but tidy and effective, work from the fullback.
Jonny Steele (7)- Steele keeps improving on the right wing, and was the focal point of a few attacks. Good crosses, and nice runs. Check out this BBC midweek clip on him...
Tim Cahill (8.5)- The heart and soul of the Red Bulls' midfield. Won numerous aerial clashes, dealt incisive passes, and sorted out trouble when called upon. Oh yeah, he also scored two goals today (take that, Cahill-bashers.)
Eric Alexander (6)- Meh. Pretty much invisible throughout the whole game. Not his best performance in a Red Bulls uniform, perhaps due to playing centrally instead of out wide.
Lloyd Sam (6.5)- It was fairly evident throughout the game that Sam still has some fitness issues that need to be sorted out, but did well to utilize the wings and use his speed against Toronto's fullbacks when needed. Created a few chances, but otherwise an average/O.K. game for the Englishman.
Fabian Espindola (7.5)- Works wonders under pressure and in tight spaces. Unlucky not to score in first half stoppage time, and proved again to be a menace on the dribble.
Thierry Henry (7)- Floated in and out of the game, but ended up providing a little bit of brilliance to assist Cahill's second goal. Headed a few of the Red Bulls attacks, and carved out a few chances. Combined well on a one-two and a few little passing movements with Cahill to free himself at the top of the box, but pushed his shot over the bar.
Mike Petke (6.5)- Substitutes were largely ineffective, but keeps pushing his players to attack even when up a goal. The New York native should be proud of his team's efforts, and should aim for three points in next weekend's matchup against the Columbus Crew.