The New York Red Bulls spoke all week about how much better Toronto FC was playing now when compared to the beginning of the season. But constant fouls and poor marking on set pieces forced them to settle for a draw with the worst team in the Eastern Conference.
The Red Bulls fell out of first place in Eastern Conference after a 1-1 draw with Toronto FC at BMO Field on Saturday night that was flatter than day-old soda. Jan Gunnar Solli scored early for NY, but his poor marking allowed Toronto forward Danny Koevermans to equalize in the sixth minute.
“Get a very good start but unfortunately, not focused from the kickoff,” Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe told reporters after the match. “That ended up with a corner, in the corner they scored. I would say it’s sloppy.”
Red Bulls midfielder Dax McCarty noted in a postgame television interview that his team’s defending on set pieces was “soft.” But Backe pointed the finger elsewhere, focusing on the constant fouls committed that he felt hurt New York the most.
“It’s more unexperienced players that give away free kicks," Backe said. "When you have oppositions turn with their back against the goal, you can’t give away free kick that easy. That is more about that we have some guys that don’t have the experience.”
While Backe was likely talking about fullbacks Connor Lade (a rookie) and Brandon Barklage (a three-year-plus professional with limited playing time), the Red Bulls did seem content with grabbing a road point. After all, they played a resurgent Toronto FC playing some of their best soccer of the season.
“In this league you always have to give everything to try and grab some stuff away from home, especially when they want to show [new head coach] Paul Mariner they deserve to be in the squad” said Red Bulls captain Thierry Henry. “It wasn’t an easy game at all. … It was a great unit and difficult to find some space to break them down, but I think a 1-1 draw was a fair result.”