Red Bulls celebrate Bradley Wright-Phillips’ bicycle-kick goal. (Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)
By Christian Arnold
HARRISON, N.J. – It may not have been a win, but when the final whistle blew after a 90-minute battle between the Red Bulls and Toronto FC head coach Jesse Marsch was pleased with the result.
Despite allowing Toronto FC to tie the game in the 70th minute, the Red Bulls battled to a 1-1 draw and snapped a three-game losing streak Friday night.
For Marsch and the rest of the Red Bulls it was a step in the right direction following an ugly 3-1 loss to the LA Galaxy Sunday.
“We looked like us today a little bit more,” Bradley Wright-Phillips, whose bicycle-kick goal in the 38th minute gave New York a 1-0 lead. “I think you’d take that. The form we’re in right now is not great. So us starting to look like ourselves is a positive thing to see. Us playing how we normally play, that will bring us results. Results will come.”
But Wright-Phillips never said the results would come easy. On Friday the Red Bulls had to grind through an exciting – and at times nerve-wracking – second half that saw a free-kick lead to a goal, a penalty kick, scoring chances trade by both sides, a disallowed goal and a lot of chipiness. Yet big stops by goalkeeper Luis Robles helped to fend off Toronto, including a penalty kick in the 81st minute that he turned aside. Robles dove to his left to block the attempt of former Red Bull Jozy Altidore.
“Huge play from Luis,” Marsch said. “Huge play, one we needed. Sometimes when you think of big goals and important moments like that, but it can often be a massive save. The difference between a draw and the energy of the game and a loss is huge.
“It’s these little things in a season, little things in a game, little moments. We’ve got to continue to push those.”
Whether or not a foul inside the box should have been called in the moments leading up to the PK is up for debate depending on who you talk to. For the Red Bulls that is especially the case considering they felt their Aaron Long was pulled down by Altidore a mere seconds before.
Luis Robles saves Jozy Altidore’s penalty kick. Video courtesy of the Red Bulls Facebook page
“I think the referee could have just solved the problem by calling on Long that got [Tosaint] Ricketts in,” Marsch said. “It compounded it by calling a penalty.”
The penalty kick save was just one of several big moments for New York in the second half of an entertaining match in front of 21,025 fans at Red Bull Arena. More importantly the Red Bulls were hoping that Friday’s performance was the beginning of a better swing for the club.
The Red Bulls’ three-game skid lost some ground for the club in the Eastern Conference standings, but Friday’s draw moved them even with rival New York City FC at 17 points.
“Sure we only got one point, but it could be the type of momentum that could be a catalyst for things going forward,” Robles said.