Last night at Red Bull Arena, the New York team’s playoff dreams took a step forward, while those of Toronto dimmed, especially with the Columbus Crew win against the Philadelphia Union. It is a close race to the finish this year with DC United at the top of the Eastern Conference, followed by the New England Revolution, Sporting KC, New York Red Bulls, and Columbus Crew currently sitting in the top five.
Last night’s match was a game of two paces as each team tried to impose their own rhythm. The match stutter stepped through the first quarter of an hour. After New York scored in the 26th minute, Toronto increased the pace but still couldn’t find the net, and with the New York team adding two more goals in the period, the teams left for the interval with a comfortable 3-0 lead.
Toronto, especially Michael Bradley, came out strong for the second half. Bradley drew applause from the Red Bulls fans as he’d take the Toronto corners, and even as he picked his way through the Red Bull lines, he was almost admired by the New York fans. When he sent the ball to Justin Morrow, who found Jonathan Osorio for Toronto’s only goal of the match, even then he floated above reproach. As the clock wound down with the Red Bulls doing everything they could to waste time, with Luis Robles even chastised by the referee, who gestured to his watch, Michael Bradley did everything he could to get a Toronto win. It was a game that you could feel Toronto wanted more, but just couldn’t get.
After the game, New York coach Mike Petke responded to a question about whether he felt comfortable with the lead they had through the second half by saying: ‘
“I felt comfortable when I was shaking Greg Vanney’s hand after the game. I never feel comfortable, ever. That’s the truth. Last year when we won the Supporters’Shield the last game, what was it? Was it 5-2? I was freaking out more in the 92nd minute of that game than I was, you know, earlier in the game. It’s just the way I am, it’s just the way the personality of this team is, you never feel comfortable. You know, they could do wonderful things or, you know, things don’t go so well.”
The match ended in shoving matches and yellow cards. And with the Red Bulls one step closer to the playoffs.
Crew’s defeat of the Philadelphia Union last night puts them a point in the standings below the Red Bulls, which will make next week’s game between the two teams (on ‘fan night’) even more exciting at Red Bull Arena.
The Red Bulls can be assured of a playoff spot as early as tonight if Houston Dynamo lose or draw against DC United. But Mike Petke isn’t interested in just qualifying at the moment. His goal is to finish third in the Conference. “We’re taking every game as a playoff game and that includes Columbus next week. [Tonight] is out of our hands, what happens with Houston. I’m gunning for third (in the Conference).”