Teams: New York Red Bulls vs. Toronto FC
Kick-off: 05:00 AM, Red Bull Arena – Harrison, N.J.
Where to Watch: Catch live action on DSport, this Saturday
Last Game Played: Sep 18, 2016; TOR 3 – 3 NY
Season Goal leaders: New York Red Bulls – Bradley Wright-Phillips (4 goals), Toronto FC – Jozy Altidore (6 goals)
Two Eastern Conference powers trending in opposite directions will meet on Friday, when the slumping New York Red Bulls will welcome Toronto FC – winners of six straight – to Red Bull Arena. The match kicks off at 05:00am and will be televised live on DSport.
After a solid start, the Red Bulls have had a rough go of it in the past couple of weeks, losing three matches in a row to take the shine off their three consecutive wins at the end of April. Their most recent defeat was their worst, a 3-1 home loss to the previously-sputtering LA Galaxy that saw the Red Bulls give up two goals in the opening 10 minutes and fail to mount a significant response as their 19-game regular season home unbeaten streak came to a crashing halt.
There’s no such crisis of confidence in Toronto. Despite playing a massively-congested schedule, the Reds have ripped off a club record six wins in a row, getting contributions from all over their deep roster to rocket to the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings. They got a big performance off the bench from Jozy Altidore to beat Minnesota United FC 3-2 on Saturday, but won’t have star Sebastian Giovinco or regular center back Nick Hagglund available for several weeks after both suffered injuries against the Loons.
Head coach Jesse Marsch took the Sunday’s loss harder than most, alternately calling it “the worst performance since I’ve been here at Red Bull at home, for sure,” and a “massive slap in the face, massive.”
For the first time in five games, Toronto FC won’t be playing on short rest on Friday. They will, however, be short an MVP. Giovinco is out for about the next month thanks to a quad strain that forced him out in the first half against Minnesota, leaving TFC without perhaps the best player in the league and beyond.
New York Red Bulls
- Suspensions: None
- International Duty: Tyler Adams (US U-20s)
- Injury Report: OUT – D Gideon Baah (broken leg – out for season); QUESTIONABLE – Aurelien Collin (abdominal strain)
- Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Luis Robles – Connor Lade, Damien Perrinelle, Aaron Long, Kemar Lawrence – Sean Davis, Felipe – Alex Muyl, Sacha Kljestan, Daniel Royer – Bradley Wright-Phillips
Notes: New York’s loss to LA last week snapped a 19-game home regular season unbeaten run. Additionally, it had been 20 games since the Red Bulls had conceded three or more goals at home … New York had three shots on target and faced six shots on target in their loss to LA. They’ve only had a bigger deficit in shots on target at home once in the Jesse Marsch era, on March 6, 2016 in a 2-0 loss to Toronto.
- Suspensions: None
- International Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT – Sebastian Giovinco (quad strain), Nick Hagglund (torn MCL); QUESTIONABLE – M Jonathan Osorio (cardiovascular illness)
- Projected Starting XI (3-5-2): Alex Bono – Eriq Zavaleta, Jason Hernandez, Justin Morrow – Steven Beitashour, Marky Delgado, Michael Bradley, Victor Vazquez, Raheem Edwards – Tosaint Ricketts, Jozy Altidore
Notes: Toronto have won their last two road games as part of a club record six-game winning streak. No MLS team had a six-game winning streak in 2016.
Overall: New York 13 wins (51 goals) … Toronto 7 wins (28 goals) … Ties 6
At New York: New York 10 wins (34 goals) … Toronto 2 wins (9 goals) … Ties 1