After a slow start for the Reds, Toronto FC finished strong en route to a 1-1 draw against New York City FC at Yankee Stadium Wednesday night. Here are five things we noticed shortly after the match tonight.
Forgettable first half
I’m not sure if it was the smaller Yankee Stadium pitch, or perhaps tired legs from the weekend, but the amount of stray passes or bad touches I counted from Toronto FC in the first half were more than I’ve seen from the Reds in the past month. Quite frankly, TFC were lucky to escape into the break tied at one, and that was thanks to Altidore’s physicality and willingness in the box. NYCFC appeared to have a game plan which involved dropping off Marky Delgado in the Toronto FC midfield, opting to apply pressure and take away time from Toronto’s more dangerous playmakers. The result was several forced passes from the Reds, and in turn, one of the sloppiest halves from Toronto that we’ve seen in a while. The second half was, for the Reds sake, a different story.
A difficult decision ahead
While Toronto FC breakout player Richie Laryea excelled in his first two International caps for Canada, Auro Jr. has quietly put together a case in his absence to be coach Greg Vanney’s first-choice RB down the stretch. While Laryea offers the Reds a dynamic presence moving forward with his ability and willingness to take his opponent on 1v1, Auro provides a bit of stability on both sides of the ball that may be necessary to have in this TFC back four.
The good news for Vanney and Toronto FC is that Auro Jr. has also shown his versatility over these last two outings, playing LB when called upon. He’s played the better half of the last two matches on the left side of the pitch, and at the very least, comfortable doing so. With Justin Morrow nursing an injury at the moment, it’s at least reassuring that Auro Jr. can always play on the left side.
It’s a good problem to have for the Reds, who appeared to be thin at the fullback position entering this season. Auro Jr. and Laryea both offer Vanney something different, and perhaps it’s something to keep an eye on moving forward.
“VAR, VAR, VAR!”
That “VAR, VAR, VAR!” chant towards the end of the match by the Bronx faithful when Toronto FC defender Chris Mavinga’s flailing arm caught NYCFC striker Valentin Castellanos in the face causing blood was actually kind of catchy.
Mavinga was shown a yellow card, but a penalty could not be rewarded because the Toronto FC defender was fouled by Castellanos just prior to striking the NYCFC’s player’s face.
Either way, the controversy lives on, but it did benefit the Reds tonight when they were rewarded with a first-half penalty. So, we love it tonight, right?
Michael Bradley was once again in-form Wednesday night. We touched on his recent performances after last game against Cincinnati, but it was Cincinnati. Tonight, against the current Eastern Conference leaders, he was often left stranded in the midfield, yet still managed to make crucial tackles at critical times. While he at times can get overlooked by the casual fan due to his position and playstyle, his ability to win the ball back and keep possession for the Reds will be imperative down the stretch.
Michael Bradley in #NYCvTOR:— Joga Bonito (@Jasoninho10) September 12, 2019
57/65 (88%) passes
6/6 long balls
1 key pass
4/8 duels won
Another excellent all-around performance by The General. He's a major factor in #TFCLive improved run of form in recent weeks. pic.twitter.com/nu0EySASo6
Another weapon for Vanney
When Erickson Gallardo went down injured in the 40th minute with a foot contusion according to the team, Tsubasa Endoh’s name was called upon once again by Vanney after the Japanese forward put together a fantastic showing against FC Cincinnati on the weekend.
And again, the 2016 ninth-overall pick, played well. He finished the game with two shots on target and looked more capable of an end product than Gallardo did tonight. Endoh’s versatility must be appealing for Vanney moving forward as the 26-year-old can be deployed on either wing off the bench.
Did anything stand out to you Wednesday night?