A recent run of inconsistency has the New York Red Bulls struggling to keep pace in the Eastern Conference playoff race. They hope a home game against the worst team in MLS will allow them to get back on track.
Looking to at least remain in a third-place tie in the East, New York will try to extend Toronto FC’s 10-game winless streak Saturday night.
The Red Bulls (14-8-8) have gone 1-1-3 in their last five. While they’ve been earning points, it hasn’t been enough to hold off D.C., which has won three in a row to pull even with New York and also plays Saturday.
The club’s latest game was particularly disheartening, as the Red Bulls settled for a 1-all draw with New England last Saturday after allowing the equalizer five minutes into stoppage time.
“That was probably the worst I’ve ever felt after a game, and I’m not even exaggerating,” midfielder Dax McCarty told the team’s official website. “That was a serious, serious blow.”
A second straight rough effort on offense contributed to the disappointing result against the Revolution, who share the league’s third-worst record. New York fell 2-0 to Sporting Kansas City in its previous game Sept. 19.
Despite their recent results, the Red Bulls remain within striking distance of Sporting KC and Chicago, the top two teams in the conference which have also surged of late.
“We know we can still win the East,” McCarty told the team’s website. “I think the focus now has just got to be the next game against Toronto. They certainly don’t have the playoffs to play for, but they’re playing for their jobs. And when guys are playing for their jobs that can make it a trickier game.
“So it’ll be a tough one, but it’s one where we need to win.”
New York wasn’t able to do that in its first matchup with Toronto, a 1-all tie June 30 in which New York’s Jan Gunnar Solli and TFC’s Danny Koevermans scored in the first six minutes. The Red Bulls, though, appear to have a better chance to come away with three points this time.
New York is 10-1-3 at home - the Sept. 19 defeat was its first there - and Toronto hasn’t won an MLS contest since July 18.
TFC (5-18-7) has totaled one or no goals eight times in the last 10 games.
“We just can’t get a break at the present moment,” coach Paul Mariner said. “… We’ve got our backs against the wall to say the least but as you can see, we’ve still got some fight in us.”
Mariner’s team fell behind 3-0 in the first half of its loss to Los Angeles last Saturday before outscoring the Galaxy 2-1 after the break.
The Red Bulls have gone 4-0-2 in the last six meetings with Toronto and have won three straight at home in the series, posting shutouts each time. New York has earned shutouts in all but one game in going 5-0-1 at home all-time against TFC.