Toronto — Mexican international Rafa Márquez opened his MLS account to kick off a 4-1 rout as the New York Red Bulls handed Toronto FC their first home loss of the year. The three valuable points picked up at BMO Field on Saturday afternoon put the 2nd-place Red Bulls three points behind the Columbus Crew and opened up a 8-point gap over 3rd-place TFC.
While the hometown Reds seemed determined on stopping highly touted French international Thierry Henry, a clinical finish by New York’s other designated player and some cruel misfortune helped the visitors gain a 2-0 halftime lead.
Toronto actually came closest early on. Nick La Brocca nearly changed the course of the game in the 14th minute when his scorching shot from the top of the penalty area beat New York goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul. But the ball clanged off the post.
In the 35th minute, New York asserted themselves for good. A poor clearance eventually led to a scorching strike by Márquez, the former Barcelona halfback. Midfielder Tony Tchani picked up a loose ball and slid a square ball to Márquez, who wasted no time cutting towards the Toronto goal and unleashing his shot into the upper 90, leaving goalkeeper Stefan Frei helpless.
Three minutes later, the Red Bulls doubled their lead when TFC midfielder Joseph Nane struck an own goal. New York midfielder Dane Richards was fouled by Toronto defender Dan Gargan on the right side. Márquez’s resulting free kick curved in front of the Toronto goal, and after Nana Attakora whiffed, the ball struck Nane’s shin and bounced into the back of the Reds’ goal.
Colombian striker Juan Pablo Ángel was unlucky not to make the score 3-0 when his point blank shot was snuffed out by Frei four minutes before the halftime break.
Canadian international Dwayne DeRosario finally broke Toronto’s duck with his own display of skill in the 49th minute. Receiving a loose pass from O’Brian White, DeRo beat defender Carlos Mendes to the ball and then fired a tight-angled shot through Coundoul’s legs.
Henry, who has yet to score for the Red Bulls, found himself with a glorious chance to open his own MLS account in the 56th minute. In alone on goal after a nice move around the defender, he struck his shot high, earning a chorus of catcalls from the Toronto supporters.
The game then changed for good in the 60th minute. Attakora, the man assigned with marking Henry, Attakora, was given his marching orders. A cross from the right side looked destined for an open Henry before Attakora knocked it away with his hand. Referee Jair Marrufo wasted no time flashing a red card.
RBNY captain Ángel slotted the resulting penalty kick home in off the crossbar.
Márquez left the game in the 74th minute and was replaced by former TFC defender Carl Robinson, who received a huge ovation in appreciation for his three seasons at BMO Field. And just four minutes later, Robinson got on the scoresheet, heading in a wicked cross from Dane Richards that Frei misplayed. Robinson, classy as ever, refused to celebrate his goal in front of the fans who previously cheered for him in Toronto.
Some sensational play by both goaltenders helped close out the match, with Coundoul stopping Nick La Brocca from close range in the 84th minute and Frei shutting down Lindpere with a spectacular fingertip save less than a minute later.
The loss ended Toronto’s17-game home unbeaten run, the longest in club history, which dated back to last season. The Reds will not have time to think about it, though, as they travel to Panama on Tuesday night for a CONCACAF Champions League match against Arabe Unido, before returning home to face defending MLS Cup champion Real Salt Lake next Saturday.
New York head to the West Coast next weekend for a clash with the San Jose Earthquakes.
NY -- Rafael Marquez 1 (Tony Tchani 1) 35
NY -- own goal (Joseph Nane) 41
TOR -- Dwayne De Rosario 9 (O'Brian White 2) 49
NY -- Juan Pablo Angel 12 (penalty kick) 61
NY -- Carl Robinson 1 (unassisted) 77
New York Red Bulls -- Bouna Coundoul, Roy Miller, Tim Ream, Carlos Mendes, Chris Albright, Joel Lindpere, Rafael Marquez (Carl Robinson 74), Tony Tchani, Dane Richards, Juan Pablo Angel, Thierry Henry (Salou Ibrahim 67).
Substitutes Not Used: Danleigh Borman, Mike Petke, Seth Stammler, Sinisa Ubiparipovic, Greg Sutton.
Toronto FC -- Stefan Frei, Dan Gargan, Adrian Cann, Nana Attakora, Nick Garcia, Dwayne De Rosario, Martin Saric (Fuad Ibrahim 77), Joseph Nane, Nick LaBrocca, O'Brian White (Chad Barrett 63), Mista (Jacob Peterson 46).
Substitutes Not Used: Ty Harden, Raivis Hscanovics, Maksim Usanov, Jon Conway.
NY -- Carlos Mendes (caution; Reckless Tackle) 14
NY -- Rafael Marquez (caution; Reckless Tackle) 37
TOR -- Nana Attakora (ejection; Denied Goal Scoring Opportunity (Handball)) 60
NY -- Salou Ibrahim (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 72
Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee's Assistants: Bill Dittmar, Cameron Blair
4th Official: Geoff Gamble
Time of Game: 1:49
NOTE: Loss ends Toronto FC's league unbeaten streak at BMO Field at 17 games; last home loss in MLS came June 6, 2009.