UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Memories of a 5-0 victory over Toronto FC on July 6 are both a bit of confidence for the Red Bulls, but also a cautionary tale. This, after all, is not the same Toronto side that they played nearly three months ago, and New York know it.
With a game in BMO Field looming this Saturday night for the Red Bulls (7:30 pm ET, Fox Soccer), the club is hoping to build on the momentum of the past two weeks. New York have two wins in their last three games, both by shutout, and are sitting in the 10th and final playoff spot.
Left back Roy Miller said that since those wins, the club “has bonded, you can see us coming together.” But the Toronto FC of the past two months is a far more experienced side with additions such as midfielder Torsten Frings and forward Danny Koevermans.
“It’s a totally different team so we’re expecting something different,” Dane Richards told MLSsoccer.com. “One thing they have now is experience and with experience, anything can happen because they’re going to help the young players to play better. I’ve been watching them in the [CONCACAF] Champions League and they’ve been playing well.”
Frings has come in and held down the middle for TFC, alternating his 10 starts between sweeper and defensive midfielder. Koevermans, meanwhile, has scored six goals in just eight games for his new club and has quickly become one of the league’s most feared strikers.
“It’s almost a totally new team with the new players,” RBNY coach Hans Backe told MLSsoccer.com. “It will be difficult to play them, they’ve won in their last two or three games. It’s a tricky, tricky game. You need to play at your best time to get three points. We need to play at our best with the situation we’re in.”
Toronto FC aren’t yet mathematically eliminated from the playoffs and have been playing well, posting a 2-1 mark in September in league play and, on Tuesday night, tying Mexican side Pumas UNAM 1-1 at BMO Field. There is a confidence about the club that wasn’t there when they played in New Jersey.
Backe points to Frings and Koevermans as the difference makers, especially in raising the talent level of their teammates.
“With Koevermans and Frings in, you have a lot of experience – players who on the pitch can organize the team in a good way,” Backe said. “They are, of course, getting better and better with the players they’re bringing in.”