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Red Bulls Crash Canada’s Party: Defeat Toronto 1-0

Bradley Wright-Phillips against Toronto FC.  Credit to New York Red Bulls.

Toronto, ONT—July 1, 2018—Canada Day celebrations had a slight damper put on them in Toronto on Sunday afternoon as the New York Red Bulls, through a fourth minute goal by Kemar Lawrence, defeated Toronto FC 1-0 at BMO Field.  The victory moved the Red Bulls into second in the Eastern Conference with 32 points in their first 16 matches this season.  The victory was also a small measure of revenge for Jesse Marsch and his team who were knocked out of last years playoffs by Toronto in the conference semi-finals on away goals in what were two feisty encounters.  The match was a tale of two goalkeepers; one who would stand on his head and the other who wished he had gotten a second chance.

Marsch’s club got off to a very fast start as both Bradley Wright-Phillips and Kaku got decent looks at goal but both shots were misfired.  However, the Red Bulls would get on the board once again from an unexpected source.  Off a corner by Sean Davis was partially cleared, the ball fell to left back Kemar Lawrence.  The Jamaican international hit a fizzing low shot through a forest of defenders in front of goal, which was hit straight at Toronto keeper Alex Bono who somehow couldn’t handle the ball which found the side netting.  The goal was the second goal in as many games for Lawrence who opened his 2018 account last week against FC Dallas.

The remainder of the first half followed a constant pattern for the Red Bulls as they were just inches away from connecting passes to Wright-Phillips.  But the banged-up Toronto FC defense were able to intercept the passes just at the last second on multiple occasions.  The defending MLS Cup champions, who were already banged up coming to the match missing Victor Vasquez and USMNT forward Jozy Altidore, were forced into a first half substitution when CB Jason Hernandez came up lame with hamstring tightness.  After a hydration break and several half chances, both squads went to the locker room with New York up 1-0.

The home side came out with a renewed energy that had the Red Bulls defense on their heels in the second half.  But despite the relentless pressure, it was goalkeeper Luis Robles who would keep his cool.  In the 47th minute a long ball from Toronto found forward Jordan Hamilton breaking in from the right-hand side of the box, but the shot was denied by the right hand of Robles.  Just five minutes later former U.S. captain Michael Bradley broke through into the box but his shot from 10 yards out was robbed by the New York captain and finally cleared.  The last glorious chance fell to midfielder Marco Delgado who split the Red Bull backline right in the center of the box.  But once again it was the MLS Ironman who came up with a save off his chest from point blank range.

After 60 minutes Jesse Marsch and the staff had had enough of what was really a lack luster display in the hot and humid conditions.  The New York manager looked to add energy and simultaneously smother the home side’s attack, bringing on Derrick Etienne Jr. and Marc Rzatkowski for Alex Muyl and Kaku.  Derrick Etienne Jr. would get a glorious chance in the 75th when a cross by Connor Lade seemed to present a tap in for the Haitian international.  But a last-ditch tackle by Toronto’s Eriq Zavaleta just got in the way and forced a clearance.

In the 78th minute Toronto got a glorious chance to level the score in controversial circumstances.  The moment began when Luis Robles committed another daylight robbery in front of net, this time denying Jonathan Osorio a chance for his name on the scoresheet.  In the ensuing scramble, defender Tim Parker fell over in the box and as he came to ground the ball slightly grazed his right arm.  However, after review, Hilario Grajeda somehow determined that this contact was intentional and awarded the home side a penalty kick.  But Luis Robles would not be denied his shutout and saved the shot by the Italian striker Giovinco, diving to his right to get both hands on the shot.  Greg Vanney’s side could not find any other opportunities at goal for the remaining 10 minutes, and the match ended 1-0.

The Red Bulls will be on the road again next Sunday in the 13th edition of the Hudson River Rivalry against NYCFC.  This will be the third time that the rivals have met this season with the Red Bulls on the upside of both derbys winning 4-0 in both prior meetings, once in the MLS regular season and once in the U.S. Open Cup.  However, this will the first visit to the Bronx for the Red Bulls this season, where NYCFC have held opponents to just 4 goals this season and a record of 7-1-0 (W-D-L).  As the dog days of summer roll in every point is critical especially on the road, and the Red Bulls will be dead set on going 3-0-0 against their rivals to achieve just that, in what promises to be another big test.

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