A rocky first half gave way to a decisive second as the New York Red Bulls beat Toronto FC 2-0 at home on Saturday. The match saw the MLS debut for defender Rece Buckmaster, who was selected 32nd in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft by New York and played for their USL affiliate up until the call-up August 3rd.
The first 45 minutes saw Toronto looking the much more dangerous side. Most of their attack came down the left flank, targeting the new signing Buckmaster. Controlling 67% of the possession, they forced Luis Robles into making some brilliant saves. Winger Nick DeLeon saw his attempt blocked in the 4’. Alejandro Pozuelo, alone in front of goal, put the ball into the stands in the 29’. Pozuelo put another one off the woodwork in the 41’.
Toronto’s best chance came in the 43’. Jozy Altidore, who’s earlier goal was called back for offsides, crossed the ball in front of goal to an unmarked Jacob Shaffelberg. Shaffelberg hit an awkward shot from a tight angle which should have ended up in the back of the net, if not for the quick adjusting by Robles. Robles came from the near post to the far and made a sliding one-handed save to make sure the first half finished all level.
New York did have a couple chances of their own to break the deadlock in the first half. A Tim Parker header off a corner was cleared off the line in the 8’ and a saved shot by Sean Davis in the 45’ were as much offense as New York could muster.
The second half saw the substitution of Cristian Cásseres Jr and the impact was felt immediately. NYRB looked like a completely different squad, maintaining more possession and attacking with purpose . Kaku, who had been rather quiet in the first half, opened up the defense in the 55’. Splitting two defenders just outside the box, he hit a low shot which deflected off an unaware Chris Mavinga and ended up inside the back post. It was officially called an own goal by Mavinga.
Red Bulls would be awarded a penalty kick in the 57’ after Marc Rzatkowski was tripped in the box by Jonathan Osorio. Daniel Royer’s perfect record of penalty kicks would come to an end as he skied his ninth attempt over the crossbar. He had another shot hit off the crossbar a few minutes later.
Things would go from bad to worse for Toronto as Justin Morrow would see a red card for fouling Bradley Wright-Phillips on a breakaway opportunity. NYRB would capitalize on the man advantage to double their lead in the 91’. Kaku, with deft touch, put a floating cross into the box intended for Daniel Royer. The ball was headed by Royer, which deflected off Quentin Westberg. Kemar Lawrence was there for the rebound and blasted it into the back of the net.
With the win, New York jumps up to third place and are hot on the heels of conference co-leaders Philadelphia Union and Atlanta United. A true test lay ahead of the boys in red next Sunday as they will make the cross country trek to face the current Western Conference leaders, LAFC. Toronto sit at eighth and are two points from gaining one of the seven playoff spots. They will play Ottawa Fury F.C. midweek for the first leg of the Canadian Championship and pick up MLS action next Saturday as they host Orlando City at BMO Field.