We will analyse the MLS game played in Toronto on the 30th of June. Two teams with different objectives faced each other: The Red Bulls were higher in the table, with Thierry Henry but without Rafa Marquez who was injured, whilst the local team faced the game with the need to get the necessary points to escape from the bottom part of the table. Both teams started the match with a 1-4-4-2 formation and playing long balls. In midfield the Red Bulls used the diamond shape with Dax McCarty playing very close to the back four helping out in defence especially when Toronto had the chance to launch a counter attack and also offering an alternative in attack by coming to receive the ball to build up play. In attack the Red Bulls were much more dangerous on the right wing with the right full back Barklage going forward and Kenny Cooper and Dane Richards coming to support him. The first goal for the Red Bulls, scored by Solli, arrived precisely from the right wing in the 4th minute. The left wing wasn’t used at all in attack as both players acting on that side were right footed. Lade, the left full back, found it very hard to play from the left, as well as Jan Gunnar Solli, who kept going inside every time he received the ball.
For their part, Toronto based all their offensive potential in the quality of Torsten Frings and playing long balls to their two strikers Ryan Johnson and Danny Koevermans. They ended up playing long balls too often which weren’t too difficult to defend for the Red Bulls defence. Their main threat in attack came from set pieces with long throws-in by Jeremy Hall, the right full back, and free kicks and corners always delivered by Frings. And just two minutes after Red Bulls’ goal (6th minute), Koevermans, Toronto’s most dangerous player, levelled the score heading the ball from a corner. With this goal Koevermans prolonged his good run having scored five goals in the last four games.
During the first half neither team was able to control the game. Each team had chances to score, the clearest ones for the Red Bulls after a free kick taken by Henry and a header by Cooper that hit the cross bar after a good cross delivered by Lindpere. In the second half the local team tried to have more possession of the ball, with Henry coming to receive the ball to the midfield in an attempt to organise the offensive phase with more criteria. However, a higher control of the game didn’t mean more chances to score. With 15 minutes to finish the game, Red Bulls’ coach made a substitution; Victor Palsson replaced Joel Lindpere and the team changed its system to a 1-4-1-4-1, with McCarty playing between the lines and Palsson and Henry behind Cooper. The Canadian side wasn’t creating any danger in attack, but this changed when De Guzman replaced Eric Avila in the 90th minute and started to threaten the New Yorkers from the right wing. In just five minutes De Guzman delivered dangerous crosses that couldn’t be converted by Koevermans, Johnson or Soolsma (who had previously entered the pitch replacing Reggie Lambe). In the end, after two goals in the first six minutes of the game, the score didn’t change and the game finished with a 1-1 draw.