New York Red Bulls vs. Toronto FC | 2017 MLS Match Preview
New York Red Bulls vs. Toronto FC
2017 MLS Regular Season
Red Bull Arena - Harrison, N.J.
Friday, May 19 - 7:30 pm ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE (USA) | TSN (Canada)
After a solid start, the Red Bulls have had a rough go of it in the past couple of weeks, losing three matches in a row to take the shine off their three consecutive wins at the end of April. Their most recent defeat was their worst, a 3-1 home loss to the previously-sputtering LA Galaxy that saw the Red Bulls give up two goals in the opening 10 minutes and fail to mount a significant response as their 19-game regular season home unbeaten streak came to a crashing halt.
“It’s a bit bizarre to me, I can’t really figure it out. We talked all week about being us, and doing what makes us so good, especially when we’re at home, and in the first 10 minutes, we come out and play like an amateur team,” captain Sacha Kljestan said after the match. “It’s hard to explain. I think some guys are lacking confidence right now and aren’t confident on the ball.”
There’s no such crisis of confidence in Toronto. Despite playing a massively-congested schedule, the Reds have ripped off a club record six wins in a row, getting contributions from all over their deep roster to rocket to the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings. They got a big performance off the bench from Jozy Altidore to beat Minnesota United FC 3-2 on Saturday, but won’t have star Sebastian Giovinco or regular center back Nick Hagglund available for several weeks after both suffered injuries against the Loons.
New York Red Bulls
As evidenced by that Kljestan quote up above, the Red Bulls were pretty downcast after Sunday’s defeat. Head coach Jesse Marsch took the loss harder than most, alternately calling it “the worst performance since I’ve been here at Red Bull at home, for sure,” and a “massive slap in the face, massive.”
We’re not quite at crisis levels for the Red Bulls, who are still in fifth in the East, but there are some definite problems in New York. Kljestan isn’t having anywhere near the same type of year as he did in 2016, when he recorded 20 assists. It’s pretty clear that he – and the entire team – miss central midfielder Dax McCarty, who was shipped to Chicago this winter.
As our own Matt Doyle noted earlier in the week, Kljestan’s been picking up the ball deeper and deeper on the field, leading to a less-cohesive Red Bulls attack and some less-than-stellar results. The Red Bulls will need to get their playmaker on the ball in more dangerous spots against Toronto, who play with three center mids, or they could be in for another long evening in Harrison.
- Suspensions: None
- International Duty: Tyler Adams (US U-20s)
- Injury Report: OUT – D Gideon Baah (broken leg - out for season); DOUBTFUL – D Aurelien Collin (abdominal strain)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Luis Robles – Connor Lade, Damien Perrinelle, Aaron Long, Kemar Lawrence – Sean Davis, Felipe – Alex Muyl, Sacha Kljestan, Daniel Royer – Bradley Wright-Phillips
Notes: New York's loss to LA last week snapped a 19-game home regular season unbeaten run. Additionally, it had been 20 games since the Red Bulls had conceded three or more goals at home ... New York had three shots on target and faced six shots on target in their loss to LA. They've only had a bigger deficit in shots on target at home once in the Jesse Marsch era, on March 6, 2016 in a 2-0 loss to Toronto.
For the first time in five games, Toronto FC won’t be playing on short rest on Friday. They will, however, be short an MVP. Giovinco is out for about the next month thanks to a quad strain that forced him out in the first half against Minnesota, leaving TFC without perhaps the best player in the league on Friday and beyond.
They might not need to worry much about his replacement, however. Tosaint Ricketts will likely slide into Giovinco’s forward role alongside Altidore against New York, and the Canadian international is just as hot as his team. Ricketts got plenty of run during TFC’s insane, five-games-in-15-days run, scoring three goals last week to help Toronto to wins at Columbus and against Minnesota. He’ll surely have another chance to shine at the Red Bulls, who have conceded eight goals in their last three games.
- Suspensions: None
- International Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT – F Sebastian Giovinco (quad strain), D Nick Hagglund (torn MCL); QUESTIONABLE – M Jonathan Osorio (cardiovascular illness)
Projected Starting XI (3-5-2): Alex Bono – Eriq Zavaleta, Jason Hernandez, Justin Morrow – Steven Beitashour, Marky Delgado, Michael Bradley, Victor Vazquez, Raheem Edwards – Tosaint Ricketts, Jozy Altidore
Notes: Toronto have won their last two road games as part of a club record six-game winning streak. No MLS team had a six-game winning streak in 2016.
- Overall: New York 13 wins (51 goals) … Toronto 7 wins (28 goals) … Ties 6
- At New York: New York 10 wins (34 goals) … Toronto 2 wins (9 goals) … Ties 1
Referee: Robert Sibiga
Assistant Referees: Peter Manikowski, Claudiu Badea
4th Official: Nima Saghafi