Bradenton, FL (February 25, 2015) – The New York Red Bulls claimed a 2-0 victory over Toronto FC on Wednesday night in the final group game of the IMG Suncoast Pro Classic preseason tournament.
Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sal Zizzo each scored to secure the Red Bulls a spot in the tournament’s championship game against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday evening.
“Our mentality to come out and push the tempo, play in their end, and be difficult to play against was very good,” said New York Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch. “We’re still trying to balance at times, to space ourselves and pass and put more combinations together, but overall the competitiveness within the group, the willingness to play for each other, the willingness to do what we’re trying to do tactically has been very good.”
Each team had chances early. Toronto threatened with a corner in the fourth minute, but an on-target header from Lovitz was saved by Red Bulls ‘keeper Luis Robles at the back post. Two minutes later Lloyd Sam, wearing the captain’s armband, crossed a ball for Sacha Kljestan, who squared up for striker Wright-Phillips, but the chance sailed over the crossbar.
Robles again made a save off the head of Lovitz in the 10th minute. Toronto continued to threaten through the air, coming close again in the 20th minute when a header from Bright Dike rang off the left goal post and was put out of play.
The Red Bulls were able to capitalize on a chance minutes later thanks to Wright-Phillips, who struck a low ball through traffic from 20 yards out that froze Toronto ‘keeper Chris Konopka and give the Red Bulls a 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute.
The Red Bulls made a whole-sale change at the half, bringing on a second XI that included the return of homegrown center back Matt Miazga, who missed the beginning of training camp with a quad injury.
The second group continued to find success around goal. Just after the start of the half a Mike Grella cross found Anatole Abang at the back post, but the 18-year-old Cameroonian striker put the chance over the bar.
Grella was involved in the action again in the 47th minute, recovering a blocked cross and putting a second ball across the face of goal for Sal Zizzo to finish at the far post, pushing the lead to 2-0.
The second XI finished strong, keeping up the pressure and playing mostly in Toronto’s end. Unsigned draft pick Manolo Sanchez had a chance to score his second goal in as many games in the 72nd minute, finding himself open at the back post with a chance to finish a set piece from Zizzo, but his left-footed touch went straight to Konopka.
The Red Bulls improve to 2-0-1 in the IMG Suncoast Pro Soccer Classic, finishing atop their group ahead of Toronto FC, USL side Oklahoma City Energy FC and Danish outfit HB Koge. New York will face fellow MLS side Philadelphia Union in the tournament’s championship game Saturday, February 28 at 7:30 p.m. ET from the IMG Stadium in Bradenton, Fla.
“We’ve put ourselves in a situation now where we go into Saturday and play in a preseason final,” said Marsch. “We’re going to make sure we’re ready to compete and play for each other in that one too.”
The match will be carried live on NewYorkRedBulls.com/Live.
- NY: Bradley Wright-Phillips (unassisted) 23’
- NY: Sal Zizzo (unassisted) 47’
NY Lineup: Luis Robles (Kyle Reynish, 45’), Roy Miller (Karl Ouimette, 45’), Ronald Zubar (Matt Miazga, 45’, Damien Perrinelle, 75’), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (Andrew Jean-Baptiste, 45’), Chris Duvall (Kemar Lawrence, 45’), Sacha Kljestan (Sal Zizzo, 45’), Felipe Martins (Manolo Sanchez, 45’), Peguy Luyindula (Mike Grella, 45’), Dax McCarty (Sean Davis, 45’), Lloyd Sam (Dane Richards, 45’) , Bradley Wright-Phillips (Anatole Abang, 45’)