Tonight was the most nerve racking night than any other in New York Red Bulls history, as they knew that winning their match wasn’t going to put the supporters shield in their hands. They had to have some hope from Toronto FC to knockout Atlanta United from the top perch in the Eastern Conference and the shield standings as well.
But after the full ninety minutes was over on Decision Day Toronto FC did the Red Bulls a favor, by beating Atlanta United four goals to one, while the Red Bulls withstood a hard defensive effort from Orlando City and got a one goal clean sheet victory.
The lone goal came in the 53rd minute from Derrick Etienne Jr. who scored the match winner and did it with some hard work to get himself into position. After receiving a pass from Michael Murillo, the Haitian Messi went to work.
Shane O’Neill marks Etienne and he tries to force him wide to the near side, but Derrick makes a great move to stop the ball in the middle of his dribble, then takes a shot with his right foot that just beats Adam Grinwis to the back post and Red Bull Arena erupts.
But earlier in the match Etienne took a penalty in the 15th minute that was stopped by Grinwis, as he tried to tuck it inside the far post and was stopped by the keeper. For Etienne he could’ve mulled over that penalty miss, but he was told to forget it and move on.
“I thought I had a terrible pk and the keeper made the save,” said Derrick Etienne. “I usually don’t go to that side, but I did and thankfully everyone said to keep going forward.
“Came in at halftime and they said it happens with the earliest pk’s continue on with the game, so that was my mindset for the rest of the game and do anything I can, so I finished it and was very happy with it.”
During the game the Red Bulls were keeping all the fans informed of what was going on at BMO Field, as Toronto FC had to prevent Atlanta United from getting any form of points. When they posted the score bug on the jumbotrons, the fans erupted when there was a goal scored in the other game.
After Toronto FC converted four times and Josef Martinez was the lone scorer for Atlanta United, the Red Bulls knew right away they were going to win the shield. When referee Ismail Elfath blew the final whistle, all the players ran off their bench and celebrated on the pitch in jubilation.
The Red Bulls set a new record for winning the most points in a season with seventy-one, as they leap over Atlanta United in the East and shield standings for the top spot. That made head coach Chris Armas very happy.
“Listen, it’s tremendous. We haven’t talked about the breaking the record for points.” said Armas. “Like towards the end of the year, when we were asked many questions about the Supporters’ Shield.
“The result of getting better each game would be you put yourself in this spot tonight you know, to end up with 71 points, something that maybe stands for a bit, you know, talked about some great teams. But we know there’s real work to do for the ultimate prize.”
And that ultimate prize is the MLS Cup, but now they must wait for the winners of the two Eastern wild card games that will be played this coming Wednesday and Thursday. New York City FC will host the Philadelphia Union, while DC United hosts the Columbus Crew.
But for now the party is on as this club has won three supporter shields in six seasons and that is incredible within it’s self. But after the party is over, it’s time to reset and think about the next match as the road leg will be on Sunday, November 4th.