• MLS – Toronto FC 1 (Cheyrou 70’), New York Red Bulls 1 (Wright-Phillips, 38’)
GAME RECAP IN A SENTENCE
A sleepy opening 45 minutes gave way to a thrill-a-minute second half, as TFC failed to extend their franchise-best winning streak, but did manage to come from behind to remain unbeaten in seven games.
THE MAIN STORY
So, the winning run ends at six games, but Toronto FC’s reputation as one of the deepest and most resourceful teams in MLS continues to grow.
On a night when defensive quarterback Drew Moor was back in the line-up, top scorer Jozy Altidore led the line and captain Michael Bradley went another 90 (he’s played every minute of every game this season), it was the supporting cast who came through in a big way and allowed TFC to earn a very valuable road point at Red Bull Arena.
Nine minutes after stepping onto the pitch as a substitute, Benoit Cheyrou netted the equalizer by nodding home from close range, instantly swinging the momentum in favour of the visitors. It was a sublime finish by Cheyrou, who continues to come up big in key moments for Toronto when called upon. Defender Chris Mavinga, who helped set up the goal, put in a man-of-the-match effort with a sound defensive display in his third consecutive start.
Young Canadian Raheem Edwards was electric off the bench, providing Toronto with a much-needed spark in midfield with his speed and deft touch when he was introduced in the 67th minute at the expense of the ineffective Marky Delgado. And it was Tosaint Ricketts, rather than Altidore, who posed the more dangerous scoring threat up front, twice coming oh-so-close to bagging a late winner for Toronto.
Much has been made this season about TFC’s depth, and for good reason. It says a lot about the quality of coach Greg Vanney’s options that players the calibre of Cheyrou and Edwards are starting on the bench, and that he can make six personnel changes – six! – and still walk away with a positive result from one of the toughest venues in MLS for visiting teams.
89’ OFFSIDE! Toronto 1-1 New York: A frantic final 10 minutes saw Toronto come close to notching a go-ahead goal, with Jozy Altidore’s penalty attempt saved by Luis Robles, and Tosaint Ricketts cracking a shot from inside the box off the crossbar. But Ricketts appeared to net the winner when he pounced on a rebound given up by Robles, and deposited it into the empty net. The goal was waived off, though, as teammate Raheem Edwards was in an active offside position, screening Robles on the initial long shot from Benoit Cheyrou. A tough break for Toronto FC, but replays showed it was the correct call. Full credit to the official for getting it right, as it was not an easy decision to make – nobody could have blamed him had he missed it and let the goal stand.
Can Morrow and Edwards play in the same starting 11? Drew Moor returned on Friday after missing the previous seven games due to an irregular heartbeat. He was back in the middle of the Reds’ three-man defence, which meant Justin Morrow returned to his left wingback position, which in turn meant Raheem Edwards was relegated to the bench. Edwards has been one of Toronto’s most dynamic and influential players during Moor’s absence, but Moor’s return means the young Canadian was the odd man out on Friday, as Morrow, like Moor, is an automatic starter. What will be interesting to see going forward is if coach Greg Vanney can somehow figure a way to shoehorn Edwards into the starting 11 now that Moor is back fulltime and Morrow isn’t required to fill in as one of the three centre backs.
It wasn’t the best night out for Jozy Alditore, who was TFC’s best payer through the first quarter of the campaign. The American forward was comfortably contained by New York defenders Damien Perrinelle and Aaron Long, and he failed to convert from the penalty spot late in the game. Moments later he earned his fifth yellow card of the campaign, ruling him out for next Friday’s home game against the Columbus Crew through suspension. With Sebastian Giovinco still out due to injury, Altidore’s lack of discipline was ill-timed, potentially opening the door for youngster Jordan Hamilton to start alongside fellow Canadian Tosaint Ricketts against Columbus.
New York forward Bradley Wright-Phillips now has nine goals in 10 starts against Toronto.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Chris Mavinga, Toronto FC: After a bit of a sketchy start to his MLS career – remember that game against Atlanta? – the French defender has rebounded quite nicely, putting together a string of excellent performances, and showing why the Reds went to great lengths to bring him in over the off-season. Mavinga made a number of big defensive plays against New York, including coming up with a great tackle to deny Daniel Royer on the break. He also earned an assist on Cheyrou’s equalizer.