BMO Field saw some truly amazing goals and Major League Soccer action tonight as Toronto FC welcomed the New York Red Bulls in a big Eastern conference match up. Both teams knew that a result today would impact their playoff chances and also who would top the table in the east and it was Toronto that were the happier with the result after a thrilling three-all draw.
An exhilarating first half produces three goals
Both teams knew exactly what was at stake today and they started like two teams on a mission with chances appearing on both ends. Although Toronto had the first chance of the game, it was the Red Bulls took the lead in the 12th minute. Felipe and Bradley Wright-Phillips combined well in attack before Felipe sent in a dangerous cross into the box. Steven Beitashour tried to clear the ball before it fell to Daniel Royer but he ended up putting the ball into his own net to give the Red Bulls the lead.
Toronto were not deterred by the early goal and continued to fashion chances for themselves. Jordan Hamilton, who was a threat all day with his pace, got down the left flank before squaring the ball to Osorio who had found himself unmarked in the six yard box. The midfielder had a poor first touch and could only hold his head after watching the ball roll out for a goal-kick. Jozy Altidore was the next to go close for Toronto. Will Johnson found the US international at the top of the box and he managed to hold off his defender and round Red Bulls' goalkeeper Luis Robles only to send his shot into the side netting.
The Red Bulls were still dangerous even though Toronto was creating so many chances. In the 26th minute, Sacha Kljestan put the ball right onto Wright-Phillips' head and Alex Bono had to make a brilliant save to stop New York from going two-nil up.
Five minutes later, the Red Bulls got their second. Eriq Zavaleta slipped with the ball at his feet after pressure from Royer made him turn back to his goalkeeper. The ball then fell kindly to Wright-Phillips, who was now one-on-one with Bono, and the striker chipped the on-rushing goalkeeper with ease to give the Red Bulls a two goal advantage.
The next chance of the half fell to Wright-Phillips again when Royer played a ball over the top for him to run onto. Bono was way off his line and Wright-Phillips decided to lob him but he got his angles all wrong and the ball rolled harmlessly out for a goal kick. Two minutes later and Toronto made the Red Bulls pay for that missed chance. Osorio found Justin Morrow, who had gotten forward from the back, and put in a great cross that found Michael Bradley making a late run from midfield. The captain placed the ball into the corner of the net and brought Toronto to within one of the Red Bulls just before half time.
The pace doesn't drop in the second half
Many could not have thought that the second half would pick off right where the first half ended but it did. Three minutes after kick-off, the Red Bulls were now three-one up over Toronto FC thanks to Wright-Phillips. The ball broke to Alex Muyl and he got forward quickly, creating a three-on-one situation for the Red Bulls. He then passed the ball to Kljestan, who then found an unmarked Wright-Phillips in the box. The Englishman was clinical and put his hot into the far corner for his second goal of the day. The Red Bulls were not done and Wright-Phillips could have gotten his hat trick in the 53rd minute when he was found again by Kljestan but he sent his effort wide.
Toronto knew that they needed at least a draw today and they continued to push for goals. Their pressure paid off in the 68th minute when Altidore got onto the scoresheet for the first time in the game. The striker won a free-kick at the top of the box and he stepped up to take the free-kick himself. Altidore then powered the ball into the top corner, giving Robles no chance to save it, and bringing Toronto back into contention in the game. The Red Bulls almost got a goal back when they immediately attacked from the restart but Toronto recovered quickly enough to deflect Wright-Phillips shot for a corner.
The game reached the last ten minutes of the match and Toronto had switched to a back three formation to push as many players as possible to try and get the equalizing goal. The Red Bulls held firm for most of the second half but in the 86th minute, Altidore would not be denied. Bradley pushed forward again and found the feet of Altidore. Even as he was slipping, Altidore got enough power and contact on the ball to slide it into the near post and out of the reach of a diving Robles to tie the game up for the home side.
That was the last goal of an epic encounter that kept Toronto FC at the top of the Eastern conference, clinched a playoff spot for the home team and keeps them in the hunt for the 2016 MLS Supporters Shield. New York Red Bulls will have to pick up a few more points before their playoff spot is confirmed but if they continue to score goals at will like they did today, they will be in the playoffs for another year running.