Lewis Morgan went straight for the cliche after his goal sent the New York Red Bulls on their way to three points on Saturday night.
“We said it was time to make this place a fortress.”
The Scotsman’s goal in the opening minutes, headed in off a John Tolkin corner kick, was the opening salvo of a 2-0 victory over Toronto FC in Harrison on Saturday night. A spectacular lobbed finish from Luquinhas doubled the lead in the second half as New York kept a clean sheet and put together what Morgan described as their “most complete performance” of 2022.
A young Toronto side often looked more dangerous than they had in their 4-1 loss to the Red Bulls in Ontario earlier this year, but Gerhard Struber’s team held firm and goalkeeper Carlos Coronel came up with several massive saves as New York increasingly finds their stride.
“The expectations are growing with this team,” said Gerhard Struber post-match. “It’s not only good to get the three points, but it’s especially good for my coaching team to see our signature style of play be so key to our win.”
New York’s aggressive pressing was indeed key to the result, and made for a physical game that the Red Bulls typically relish. At one point in the second half as Toronto tried to claw their way back into the match, a Carlos Salcedo elbow challenge on Morgan saw the Mexico international engage in an aggressive shouting match with the nearby Struber. Toronto captain Michael Bradley would join the fracas to have a go at Struber, who was conciliatory after the match.
“It was something of an emotional moment. There was, I believe, an elbow on Lewis Morgan, and I’ve had problems this year with referees protecting key players. Maybe I show too much emotion, but we also sometimes realize that this is a game and we understand each other.”
But the high emotional tone of the game feels like perfect preparation for the team’s next challenge. On Wednesday night the Red Bulls regroup in Harrison for a derby match in the US Open Cup quarterfinals against New York City FC. At the close of proceedings on Saturday night, both New York clubs were tied on points at the top of the MLS Eastern Conference, and Lewis Morgan said the team is relishing the midweek clash.
“We knew we had to take care of business tonight, and now we’ll regenerate and come up with a gameplan. We’re always hungry for more.”