It wasn't seven goals that Red Bulls fans had chanted for, but for Toronto FC that was still a disaster, no other way to look at it. Without question, TFC did catch New York Red Bulls at exactly the wrong time, but the effort wasn't good enough even if New York wasn't scoring at will these days.
Red Bulls doled out a 7-0 thrashing of crosstown rivals NYCFC a week ago at Yankee Stadium and they picked right up where they left off on Saturday night against TFC, putting three goals in their pocket before the game was half an hour old and New York cruised from there to a relatively easy 3-0 win.
Knowing how well that New York was playing, Toronto FC needed to be spot on defending, particularly against set pieces. Toronto's back line didn't show up in the first half with Bradley Wright-Phillips dishing out the foul tasting medicine to the reds, scoring all three Red Bulls goals. Drew Moor, on all three goals, was slow arriving to Wright-Phillips and a player of his calibre can't be allowed that kind of time or space.
The more critical issue for Toronto FC beyond losing this game is the health of Sebastian Giovinco. The Italian hobbled off in the 22nd minute with what the club is calling an adductor injury. The extent of the injury will not become clear until after the club returns to Toronto and Giovinco can undergo a full examination of the injured leg. However, manager Greg Vanney said postgame that he didn't feel that Giovinco's injury was overly serious.
What is clear is that the MLS break for the Copa America can't come at a better time for Toronto FC. With Giovinco potentially joining Jozy Altidore in sick bay, Vanney is watching his attacking options dwindle to a critically low level. TFC might be in tough for the Amway Canadian Championship tie with Montreal, but not having a league game for three weeks will allow the wounded bodies to heal.
The Red Bulls did their best to throw TFC life lines late in the first half and early in the second half with some silly play that Toronto was unable to make New York pay for.
Gonzalo Veron was quite rightly sent off just before half-time for an insane two-foot challenge on Marky Delgado. Veron looked like he was attempting a long jump as he flew toward the ball. Fortunately for Delgado, Veron did catch a lot more of the ball than he did of the Toronto midfielders feet and ankles. Regardless of the fact that Veron made contact with the ball, referee Allen Chapman had no choice but to show the New York midfielder the red card and send him packing.
The tonic for a possible Toronto comeback was served up when Red Bulls defender Connor Lade chopped Danial Lovitz down inside the box. It was a textbook penalty and not really debatable that Chapman made the right call. He also got it right when he waved off Will Johnson's goal from the spot due to Lovitz and Mo Babouli encroaching on the box before the ball had been struck by Johnson.
When you score from the penalty spot, have the goal called back, then have the retake stopped, you know that it's just not your night.
With the man advantage in the second half, Toronto FC generated a number of chances, tallying 19 shots on the evening, but without the clinical finishing talent of Sebastian Giovinco, the Toronto offence was rendered impotent by New York keeper Luis Robles.
Anyone wishing to question what Michael Bradley means to Toronto FC needs to be shown the tape of tonight's game, particularly the first half. The reds in Bradley's absence looked absolutely lost at the back end of the midfield in the first 45 minutes. Bradley has settled into the role of providing stout support to Toronto's backline this season. That support was missing at Red Bull Arena on Saturday night and the defence simply could not deal with the potency of the Red Bulls attack.
With Bradley away with the U.S. men's national team for the Copa America Centenario, Toronto FC needed a larger contribution from Will Johnson to fill the hole that Bradley's absence left in the midfield. The bad news for TFC heading into the Amway Canadian Championship tilts with Montreal is that Johnson will now depart for Europe to join Canada's men's national team for a pair of friendlies against Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. Johnson will miss the games against the Impact putting even more pressure on an already depleted midfield. Vanney now must hope that Benoit Cheyrou will be fit and ready to take the place of Johnson for the games against Montreal.
The Toronto FC defense that has been lauded for much of the season so far has now conceded 10 goals in its last 5 games. It doesn't take a math genius to figure out that the goals against average over those games has leaked up to two goals a game. That is an alarming number that harkens back to last year. The defending must tighten up; this backline is capable of more than it's shown over the past month. The reds backline missed Bradley against the Red Bulls but the downward trend defensively started several weeks ago. The three week layoff in league play will give TFC the opportunity to refocus and get back to defending the way that the team was earlier in the season.