It could be a lot worse. The New York Red Bulls are heading to BMO Field in Toronto for the second leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals down 2-1. A strong showing at home was not enough to keep free scoring Toronto FC off the board, so the Red Bulls need to come out firing if they want to move on.
An early goal by Victor Vazquez was a punch to the gut for a lot of Red Bull supporters, but the team battled back and ended up dominating for much of the match. A late penalty conversion by Daniel Royer in the first half saw New York equalise, only for Sebastian Giovinco to yet again splash home a free kick midway through the second half.
Vazquez could miss the upcoming match in Toronto after injuring his hip. There have been mixed reports about his status and it seems that a last minute decision will be made as to whether he will see the field or not. Carrying an injury into a match of this importance is never a smart move, so Toronto will benefit by playing it safe and not risking further injury to Vazquez.
Defender Drew Moor will also likely miss the match as he picked up an injury while conceding the penalty in the first half. A reported ankle injury force Moor off the pitch and left him unable to complete the rest of the match, so it is unlikely he will start in Sunday’s second leg fixture. Nick Hagglund, who replaced Moor in the first leg, could see the start as Toronto look to set up shop against New York.
There were a lot of positives to take away from the match against Toronto despite the result. The Red Bulls controlled the game, especially in the second half before Giovinco’s goal. New York ended up with nearly 65% possession and looked much the better team for most of the game.
Altidore did bully the Red Bulls defense a bit, but the fans at Red Bull Arena showered him with enough boo’s to cause the soft striker to make comments about it following the match, so in the end, it all evened out. Shutting him down in the second leg will only frustrate him more, so look for Aaron Long to play a bit more aggressive while marking the forward.
An early goal will be the key to success in this match. Scoring the first goal is also big, but an early conversion will put a lot of pressure on Toronto and could force them to open up a bit. Bradley Wright-Phillips will need to make up for the handful of chances he squandered in the first leg and getting off to a quick start would be the perfect way to do that.
Tyler Adams and the rest of the midfield will also need to carry over their dominant play from the first leg. The team ended up with nine key passes at the end of the night, so ending up with just one goal to show for only further proves how many chances the team had overall.
Jesse Marsch again failed to use all three substitutions in this match as he brought on Vincent Bezecourt after the usual appearance from Gonzalo Veron. That experiment did fail a bit, so look for Marsch to call on either Alex Muyl or Derrick Etienne late in the match to inject pace and dynamism into the match.
In all honesty, the 2-1 scoreline is not the end of the world for the Red Bulls. A 2-0 or 3-1 victory will see them through to the next round, and both results are more than capable of being reached. The main thing for the team to focus on will be converting chances, as they know they can create them against this Toronto team. Playing away to Toronto is not the easiest task, but with the Red Bulls having scored six goals in their last three trips to BMO Field, a positive result is not out of the question.