Toronto FC 0, New York Red Bulls 1 | MLS Cup Playoffs Recap
The MLS Cup favorites lived to fight another day, but Toronto FC's path to a second straight title game looks a little more complicated following a wild Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinal second leg against the New York Red Bulls.
Toronto advanced on an away goals tiebreaker, even as the Red Bulls took the result on the day thanks to Bradley Wright-Phillips' redirection of a Daniel Royer shot. And yet the confrontational nature of the game proved to be the biggest talking point of the afternoon.
A tense first-half featured a number of flare-ups between Toronto and New York players, and tensions boiled over as both teams headed down the tunnels at the half, resulting in straight red cards to Jozy Altidore and Sacha Kljestan for violent conduct. Altidore's red, in conjunction with a yellow-card accumulation suspension for Sebastian Giovinco after he picked up a late yellow card, means Toronto will miss their two star forwards in the Eastern Conference Championship first leg.
- 53' – NY – Bradley Wright-Phillips Watch
- NO LOVE LOST: A series that had already seen its fair share of tension in the first leg only saw the temperatures rise as the teams hit the field for the first half. There was plenty of chippiness to be found early on, but things really steamed in the 34th minute after a coming together between Altidore and Tyler Adams mushroomed, with Kljestan then getting in Altidore's face: Klejstan and Altidore weren't done there, though, as the two clashed in the tunnel after the halftime whistle blew, leading referee Chris Penso to issue both players straight red cards for violent conduct and leaving the teams to play out the second with 10 men.
- BIG-TIME BONO: The Red Bulls might be celebrating an unlikely berth in the Eastern Conference Championship if it weren't for a big-time save from Toronto FC 'keeper Alex Bono. With the Red Bulls already up 1-0 on the day, a second New York goal would've put them through to the next round. Wright-Phillips had a golden chance to do this that after playing a one-two with Adams to get behind the TFC backline, but Bono bolted off his line to deny the two-time Golden Boot winner and keep his team's MLS Cup hopes alive:
- MARSCH'S GAMBIT: Never one to shy away from a tactical twist, Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch had another trick up his sleeve with his team's season in the balance. This time around, he opted to send out his team in a 4-4-2 diamond formation, with the twist coming as Tyler Adams was deployed at the point of the diamond, as a "forward destroyer." The move paid dividends in that it limited Michael Bradley to his fewest touches in a game and Toronto to their fewest shots in a game all season, but the Red Bulls may have paid the price on the other end of the field:
The Red Bulls failed to take a shot in the first half of an @MLS game (reg-season or playoffs) for the first time since Aug. 2012 at SKC.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) November 5, 2017
- TOR: at Columbus Crew SC – Tues., Nov. 21, 8 pm ET (ESPN, ESPN Deportes; TSN, TVAS)
- NY: End of season