The New York Red Bulls knew what had to happen tonight as a positive result in any way was going to put them as the front runners clinching the regular season of the Eastern Conference & some separation towards the Supporters Shield. But unfortunately a two goals to one loss in Toronto has halted the good feelings for this side that has had many questions surrounding them in the offseason.
After a strange and not so entertaining first half with the only fireworks seeing Jozy Altidore who was penciled in as a substitute was shown his walking papers by referee Fotis Baakos in the 34th minute as he was deemed to give abusive verbal language to the near side assistant and that gave him his walking papers.
But sadly that ejection didn’t have any effect on the pitch as the second half began that’s when the troubles started. Herculez Gomez received a gift from Ronald Zubar as the cross coming down the near side was flubbed and the former Puebla man converted his first MLS Goal in a very long time to give the home side the advantage in the 51st minute.
Then the brilliance of Sebastian Giovinco was on display as he was subbed into the match in the 71st minute and took down the Red Bulls all by himself seven minutes later, slaloming thru the backline like it was the Italian alps and when in perfect position laced a fantastic strike that gave Luis Robles no chance of getting a fingertip on that ball.
But there was some hope when Shaun Wright-Phillips finally got his chance to put one past keeper Chris Konopka who basically had no action at all and was never threatened when SWP got hold of a loose ball and a brilliant half volley that screamed inside the near post to bring some life back. But with six full minutes of second half stoppage time, nothing happened and the Red Bulls fall in Toronto while the home side officially clinched their first playoff spot in the nine seasons they have played and finally joined that party which Montreal & Vancouver have known for the last few seasons.
On this same night FC Dallas took advantage of this Red Bulls loss and defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps two goals to nil that puts them level at the top of the Supporters Shield race, but still has the Red Bulls in the top spot. So right now whatever advantage the Red Bulls had is gone in a matter of hours, but that doesn’t mean there is failure already.
With two matches remaining with all the sides in the league it’s a simple task to win at home this weekend when the Philadelphia Union comes over who are near the bottom of the East. Yes they will try to play spoilers and at the same time FC Dallas will be traveling to Real Salt Lake the day before, but if certain results fall in the right places we could still have a shield party either this Sunday late afternoon or it could be delayed till the final match of the regular season.
But regardless of them winning the shield or not, the Red Bulls will be able to clinch the regular season in the Eastern Conference which would give them another ticket to the CONCACAF Champions League next August and that is also a big prize for the club to redeem themselves in international play.