September 14, 2013
ALONE IN FIRST
Red Bulls top Toronto, 2-0, move atop Eastern Conference
By Kristian R. Dyer
|Thierry Henry scored the Red Bulls' first goal in the 31st minute.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
BigAppleSoccer.com Contributing Editor
HARRISON, N.J. – A Thierry Henry goal in the first half and a Fabian Espindola header on the other side of halftime propelled the Red Bulls to their third consecutive win with a 2-0 result against Toronto FC on Saturday night. With the win, New York is now in sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference.
The Red Bulls (48 points) improved to 14-9-6 ahead of the Montreal Impact (13-8-6, 45), which dropped a 2-1 home decision to the Columbus Crew, and idle Sporting Kansas City (13-9-6, 45).
Boosted by some strong play from the backline, the Red Bulls played down to the level of their opponent for much of the match.
After a lackluster opening 30 minutes, the Red Bulls finally generated their edge in possession into a goal. Rookie central midfielder Michael Bustamante, in his first Major League Soccer start, slotted a 20-yard pass into the penalty area to Dax McCarty, who turned and fired a centering pass across the face of the goal. Henry was there to slide the ball into goal for a 1-0 lead in the 31st minute.
It was the ninth goal of the season for Henry and it was the first time this season that he has scored in back-to-back games.
Despite Toronto coming into the game with the second worst record in the league, the Red Bulls have struggled against their Canadian foes this season. In late April, the Red Bulls eked out a 2-1 home win against Toronto then struggled to generate any offense in a scoreless draw at BMO Field on Aug. 20. Despite what looked like a strong performance based off the score line, it was much tighter than that for New York.
In the second half, Toronto held better possession as the Red Bulls looked lackluster and lethargic in defending their one-goal lead.
All that changed when in the 80th minute, Toronto failed to clear a McCarty cross from the left side of the penalty area. On the other side of goal and from an acute angle, Espindola looped a header towards the back post and over a helpless Joe Bendik in Toronto’s goal.
For Espindola, it was his eighth goal of the season and first for the forward since scoring against Sporting Kansas City in Aug. 3.
After the goal from Espindola gave New York a 2-0 lead, the Red Bulls created more opportunities and finally looked the aggressor but couldn’t build on the lead.
With his first half goal, Henry moved into third place in the franchise’s all-time goal scoring list, ahead of former MetroStars forward Clint Mathis. He is one goal behind Giovanni Savarese, the former MetroStars forward and current head coach of the Cosmos, who holds second place on New York all-time scoring list.
Toronto has not beaten the Red Bulls since 2009, a span that includes 10 matches.
The Red Bulls will look to solidify their hold on first place next Sunday with a home game against RC Dallas.
NY – Thierry Henry (Dax McCarty, Michael Bustamante) 31’
NY – Fabian Espindola 80’
NY – Michael Bustamante (Yellow Caution Card) 44’
TOR – Steven Caldwell (Yellow Caution Card) 57’
TOR – Joe Bendik, Gale Agbossoumounde, Ashtone Morgan, Steven Caldwell, Mark Bloom, Jeremy Hall, Jonathan Osorio, Alvaro Rey (Kyle Bekker, 88’), Bobby Convey, Andrew Wiedeman (Bright Dike, 75’), Justin Braun (Jonas Elmer, 53’)
NY- Luis Robles, David Carney, Markus Holgersson, Kosuke Kimura, Jamison Olave, Jonathan Steele, Michael Bustamante (Peguy Luyindula, 90’), Eric Alexander, Dax McCarty, Thierry Henry, Bradley Wright-Phillips (Fabian Espindola, 79’)