It would have been easy for the Red Bulls to hang their heads, being 1 goal down with 2 minutes of regulation to go on a chilly night in Toronto. But that never say die attitude surfaced once again, just when they needed it most.
An 88th minute goal by Thierry Henry salvaged a 1-1 tie at BMO Field and, perhaps, saved the team’s playoff berth. Coming into the game with a one point lead on the tenth and final playoff spot, the Red Bulls now play two of their last three games at home and control their own postseason destiny. The way his side fought back definitely pleased Head Coach Hans Backe.
“To respond after being one down, like that, I’m quite pleased with the performance,” Backe said. “The work ethic was phenomenal the second half and the way we controlled the game, the passing game, the number of chances, a lot of crosses, very, very close to scoring.”
Henry’s goal could be the crucial moment in a season that started with so many expectations and has produced more than its fair share of disappointments. But none of that matter now as the Red Bulls comeback secured a vital point in what was a frustrating game for the visitors.
It was a night of close-calls from the Red Bulls, who generated just a couple of first half chances and seemed doomed to defeat after a Danny Koevermans goal in the 50th minute gave Toronto F.C. a lead that it looked like they’d hold. The Red Bulls created several chances after Kovermans goal, mainly borne out of a change in formation as Juan Agudelo entered with 10 minutes left as New York went with three forwards up top.
The 3-4-3 formation got the result with two minutes left in regulation as Henry controlled a Dax McCarty corner kick with his right foot, spun then smashed a left-footed shot past Milos Kocic for a goal that might save the season.
“We had so many chances to come back into the game, - we didn’t, but then we came back at the end. For us, it was an important point, chasing the playoffs,” Henry said. “For us, it was really important.”
Much like they did twice in August and then most recently in a 1-1 draw against Vancouver on Sept. 10, the Red Bulls fought back after falling behind to earn a draw. It may not be pretty and it certainly isn’t ideal for Backe, but New York is proving to be a team that never says die and won’t bow out of the playoffs without a fight. There is backbone on this team, even if they only seem to find it late in the game after falling behind.
And even if it looked like the Red Bulls were heading for another loss, but for the heroics of Henry, this result could carry New York to another postseason appearance.
“You kind of feel like it wasn’t going to be your day because we had so many chances – we had at least two or three clear-cut chances,” Henry said. “So you’re like ‘Can we put one in the back of the net at least and try to get at least a point?’ I do think we deserved a point.”