The questions around the New York Red Bulls this summer had nothing to do with talent. The side boasts the most expensive roster in the league and is the first team to field three designated players.
And, despite being firmly in the playoff hunt, last week’s loss to the LA Galaxy raised questions about if and when the team would gel.
Well, those questions have been answered.
Thirty-six minutes into their third match playing together, Henry, Márquez, and New York’s third designated player, Juan Pablo Ángel, showed their class as the Red Bulls dominated Toronto and won, 4-1. It was the first home loss for Toronto all year, who had been 6-0-4 at BMO Field before Saturday afternoon.
“I don’t want to say ‘statement game,’ but it says something about our team to come in here and win 4-1,” defender Chris Albright told MLSSoccer.com after the match. “And we feel we should have had a clean-sheet.”
The opening goal was scored by Márquez, his first strike since joining the club. The play was set up by rookie Tony Tchani, and Márquez struck a swerving one-time shot past Stefan Frei and into the upper right corner of the goal.
“Tony was able to take a complicated touch and get the ball out to Rafa,” Albright said. “It wasn’t sitting perfectly, but he got his foot on it and the ball was always moving away from the keeper once it left his foot.”
It was just the start for Márquez on the afternoon. A few minutes after he opened the scoring, his freekick from the right side was redirected into the goal by TFC midfielder Joseph Nane, giving the Red Bulls a 2-0 lead. And he had a legitimate shot at a third goal a minute before halftime, when he latched onto a rebound from an Ángel shot, but his effort whistled just wide.
But Márquez was not alone on the afternoon. Henry had two good chances go begging, one when he skewed his open shot from 15 yards wide of the goal and another that led to Nana Attakora’s dismissal for a handball in the box. If the ball had made it through, Henry was there to head home his first MLS goal.
Instead, the third DP, Ángel, slammed the penalty kick past Frei, putting the game out of reach for TFC in the 61st minute. Carl Robinson, the former Toronto midfielder, then completed the rout.
Seeing the three DPs clicking was what New York fans have been waiting for, but Albright thinks there is even more to come.
“I’d say result of the year, maybe not the best performance,” Albright said. “But 4-1 at Toronto, yeah, result of the year.”