Saturday, August 3, 2019

Red Bulls Hold On Against Toronto To Leap Into Third

The Red Bulls celebrate their first goal. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Red Bulls held on for a 2-0 victory over Toronto FC on Saturday night at Red Bull Arena.

With the win, the Red Bulls leaped into third place in the Eastern Conference  with a record of 11-4-9 with 37 points. They are two points behind Atlanta and Philadelphia, who each have 39 points, for the top spots in the table.

Toronto FC dominated the first half, as they poured in seven shots, two on net, and Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles kept them off the board and it was scoreless at halftime.

The Red Bulls' best chance of the night came in the 54th minute when Daniel Royer nearly headed one in by the left post.

A minute later, Kaku fired a shot toward the net from the corner, and it deflected off a Toronto defender, Chris Mavinga, and it went in to make it 1-0 Red Bulls.

Soon after, in the 57th minute, Marc Rzatkowski was taken down in corner of box by Jonathan Osorio, and a penalty kick was awarded.

Royer took it and he shot it over right corner of net. Toronto goalkeeper Quentin WEstberg was moving along the goalline vigorously before Royer took the shot, which might have gotten in his head.

It stayed 1-0 Red Bulls until the 91st minute when Kemar Lawrence picked up a loose ball inside the box and doubled their lead. It was his first goal of 2019 and fifth career for the Red Bulls.

Robles made three saves to record to earn his sixth clean sheet of the year and the 69th of his career.

Robles, the Red Bulls captain, moved into sixth all-time in wins with his 111th league victory, surpassing former Revolution and Galaxy goalkeeper Matt Reis.

Rece Buckmaster made his first career MLS appearance and start, while making his second appearance overall. Buckmaster made his first start and appearance for the first team against New England in the Open Cup Fourth Round.

The Red Bulls raised their record to 5-2-2 following a loss this season.

Red Bulls Head Coach Chris Armas said of how important it was for the defense to put in a clean sheet "Yeah, I mean, the clean sheet is important, right. I mean, I think what we would have been -- what we were most happy about is that we saw players look like us back there. Rece has a great game. Kemar Lawrence looked like himself, aggressive, recovery, the whole bit. He was in on it, you know. And then such an important position for us. I mean, Luis Robles, he's an All-Star. Again, doesn't get the accolades, but he shows up in a big way. I mean, probably -- you could almost say it now.

"And the centerbacks, okay. So if you give up a goal in the first half like the shutouts gone, but for me, those guys, aggressive stepping out, protecting channel, releasing, the connections, moving the line, helping us have a back line that's four guys thinking like one, for me, that's the most important thing that I saw in the back line."

Armas said of what was talked about at halftime, "We talked about being, you know, a little bit tighter, a little bit more compact, and then we have to stick to it, and believe in it and really go all the way with some of the principles of running at the ball. We looked a little timid in the first half and the spaces were just too big.

"So that was one part of it, just tactically how we wanted to be more and more compact. And then we talked earlier, Cristian, the Cristian move I think just naturally helps us in the middle of the field, and all of a sudden -- so that's one player. Then Rzatkowski helps us tactically more on the right be more connected.

"The changes I think and the compactness, and I think you just need to see the belief grow, and when the belief grows, the play from the players, you could see that they were hungry all of a sudden and this was good to see. It's always good to see guys scoring and having fun with the game. This is maybe the coach's dream, to see the guys love to play, and reward the supporters and reward themselves. This is what it's about for me. So that's about it."

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