The penalty call was just, but the sequence leading up to it wasn’t. Toronto FC drew a penalty call that threatened to give the Canadian club a winning goal, even as New York Red Bulls players protested against what appeared to be a clear foul by Jozy Altidore on Red Bulls defender Aaron Long.
The referee got that one wrong, but Luis Robles made it right. The Red Bulls goalkeeper dove to his let to deny Altidore’s penalty kick and keep the match tied at 1-1. A controversial, but accurate, offside call wiped away a would-be TFC winner, allowing the Red Bulls to hold on for a draw, snapping their three-match losing streak while also ending TFC’s six-match winning streak.
Normally a home draw would be disappointing, but for a Red Bulls team that had played so poorly in recent weeks, standing toe-to-toe against one of the best teams in the league was a much-needed confidence builder, especially after last week’s awful showing in a 3-1 loss to the LA Galaxy.
The draw may have halted TFC’s impressive six-match winning streak, but Greg Vanney’s squad won’t feel too disappointed with taking a road point at the tail-end of a congested schedule that has seen the East leaders play six matches in three weeks. They earned a whopping 16 points from those matches to climb six points ahead of the pack in the East.
The Red Bulls trotted out a different-looking formation than normal, deploying a 4-2-3-1 with Fredrik Gulbrandsen starting up top next to Bradley Wright-Phillips. The tandem combined for the opening goal when Gulbrandsen headed a Sacha Kljestan free kick toward Wright-Phillips, who hit a perfect overhead kick to make it 1-0 in the 38th minute.
Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch switched back to a one-forward setup in the second half, replacing Gulbrandsen with Sean Davis. TFC pushed for an equalizer and found one in the 70th minute when Benoit Cheyrou headed home a cross from Steven Beitashour.
TFC looked to have the winner in the back in the 81st minute after Damien Perinelle was called for a penalty for taking down Toisant Ricketts in the penalty area. Just before that play, which was indeed a foul, Altidore appeared to foul Aaron Long in order to keep possession. No whistle came then, but one came on Perinelle’s foul, setting up Altidore’s penalty attempt.
Robles guessed correctly on Altidore’s kick, diving to his left to parry away the shot and send the Red Bull Arena crowd into an uproar.
TFC looked to have a winning goal in the 88th minute when Ricketts pounced on a saved shot by Cheyrou to score what appeared to be his latest late-game winner, but the celebrations were short-lived after the referee ruled there was an active offside call on the Cheyrou shot. Replays showed Raheem Edwards in an offside position when Cheyrou took his long shot, and he obstructed Robles view of that shot.
TFC will look to resume its winning ways with a match at BMO Field on Friday against the Columbus Crew. The Red Bulls return to action on May 27 against the New England Revolution.
Man of the Match
Luis Robles was steady all night, and his penalty kick save was crucial to helping the Red Bulls earn a draw.
Moment of the Match
The penalty save was a special moment, but the referee’s correct offside call on what would have been a TFC game-winner was vital, and the correct call.
Match to Forget
Jozy Altidore was a handful as usual, but he could never really get going as Aaron Long did a solid job keeping him under wraps. His penalty wasn’t poorly taken, but he’ll rue having had it saved.