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New York Red Bulls 1-2 Toronto FC: The good, the bad & the ugly

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The Reds are in control heading into the second leg.

MLS: Eastern Conference Semifinal-Toronto FC at New York Red Bulls Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Good

Now that was a playoff game! The intensity, the physicality, the tension – all part of the fun… Jozy Altidore’s inspired play, especially in the first half… Marky Delgado’s header off the crossbar. How did he manage to get his wee self in the right position with Kemar Lawrence draped all over him?… Alex Bono’s stellar saves in the second half. His heroic performance was even more amazing considering this was his first playoff game. Legendary. He deserves a folk song written in his honour… despite being out of action for the past 12 weeks, Nick Hagglund answered the call at Red Bull Arena (but see ‘Bad’ section, below. Sorry Nick.)… Victor Vazquez with yet another goal against Luis Robles. A guy could get used to this… overall, another solid defensive performance by Chris Mavinga (but see ‘Bad’ section, below. Sorry Chris.)… just the right amount of hype: the pre-game show, including Michael Bradley’s vignette… just the right amount of grey: Greg Vanney’s early playoff beard… Jonathan Osorio’s fancy footwork in the corner… Armando Cooper keeping possession and remaining strong on the ball for his nine minutes of play (including stoppage time). I have to admit, I screamed a few expletives when Vanney brought him on… the artistic, New York subway-style graffiti banners throughout the park… Seba’s free-kick. How does he keep doing it? Anyone know a good folk song writer?

The Bad

Only two shots on target for TFC, and a passing success rate of less than 70%. Although the Reds got the result, there is still room for improvement… Drew Moor and Delgado getting it all wrong late in the first half… Daniel Royer with the same move on the penalty kick that he used exactly one month ago at BMO – straight down the middle. Even one of my 10-year-old daughters called it (by the way, Happy Birthday girls!)… Mavinga’s two poor clearances up the middle. Both led to chances for New York… Luke Wileman referring to Barcelona three times inside the first 20 minutes. At least he got it out of his system… Hagglund missing a few assignments against Bradley Wright-Phillips, as well as his poor clearance late in the game that led to Lawrence’s header (see Bono’s folk song)… TSN’s terribly timed replays. I moved this up from ‘ugly’ because I don’t think that anyone from the network reads my entire column.

The Ugly

Felipe’s blatant hip-check on Vazquez. The two of them had been going at it for most of the night. I am not saying this because VV was injured, but Felipe’s hit was done on purpose and was worthy of a card… Sacha Kljestan’s poor sportsmanship: slapping Mavinga’s hand away and pushing Jozy off the pitch… the yellow card shown to Giovinco. In a playoff game?! After refusing to call a foul on Felipe?! Come on!… the fact that Steven Caldwell agreed with the yellow against Giovinco. Why is he so quick to side with the officials? Is he making-up for his playing days?… two words: Sacha’s ‘stache. (Now that would make a great title for a whiney folk song!)