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Red Bulls at Toronto FC: Matchday Preview


How do you stop a red-hot team playing at home in front of the best crowd in the league? That is the question facing the Red Bulls as they prepare to play Toronto FC at BMO Field tonight (7pm, ESPN2).

The Red Bulls wil be bolstered by the returns of star forward Juan Pablo Angel and defender/midfielder Hunter Freeman, both of whom are expected to start in tonight’s match. Angel’s return means the Red Bulls will field the potent Juan Pablo Angel-Jozy Altidore forward tandem for the first time this season.

The Red Bulls will need all hands on deck against a Toronto FC squad riding a three-match winning streak. TFC has combined a revamped attack with a suddenly disciplined defense to win three straight after starting the season 0-2. Former Red Bulls star Amado Guevara has been key to the turnaround and will be the focal point tonight against his former club.

Here is a closer look at the match-up, including the lineups I see both teams using tonight:

Here is the Red Bulls lineup I see Juan Carlos Osorio using:




Van Den Bergh—————————–Leitch



Freeman looks to be close to fully recovered from an ankle injury and should slide into the right midfield role, not just because of his defensive ability, but because of his quality crossing ability.

Look for Juan Carlos Osorio to use Borman and Van Den Bergh on the left in order to keep the tandem of Rohan Ricketts and Marvell Wynne busy with defensive responsibilities. Wynne and Ricketts have been troubling opponents with their speed but they can also be caught out of position, which could free up Van Den Bergh to overlap and attack.

The game-plan is simple for the Red Bulls. Feed the wings, who will be called on to provide a steady diet of service into the penalty area. Ricketts and Robert aren’t known for their defensive capabilities, something the Red Bulls will be looking to capitalize on. This is why I think you will see Dane Richards come in as a second half sub. Another reason for this strategy is so that the Red Bulls can work around the TFC defensive midfield tandem of Edu and Robinson, which normally does a good job of clogging the middle.

The Red Bulls aren’t likely to man-mark Guevara, particularly not if he’s going to be playing in a withdrawn forward role that gives him freedom to float around, but you can bet Seth Stammler will keep one eye on Amado Guevara all match long.

Here is Toronto’s likely lineup:







It wouldn’t surprise me to see TFC coach John Carver to start Julius James ahead of Velez in central defense to give Toronto a pair of strong and athletic center backs to contend with Altidore and Angel. Pat Phelan also has the size to deal with Altidore, but I’m not sure if he has the quickness. I think it’s safe to say Marshall will mark Angel.

I also think Toronto would be better off starting Jeff Cunningham instead of Dichio up top because Cunningham’s speed will cause more problems for the Red Bulls than Dichio’s aerial prowess. Dichio seems to be Carver’s preferred choice up top though so I see him getting the call.

How do I see the match playing out? I think Toronto starts of well but then the Red Bulls settle down and catch up. Expect a wide-open match that will finish a 2-2 tie.

What do you think of tonight’s match? Share your thoughts below.


  1. TFC have played the 4-5-1 for the last few games. They appear to be getting enough offence from the midfielders (the attacking three) to make up for the lone striker. The advantage of the 4-5-1 is that it allows the FBs to bomb down (particularly on the right, where Ricketts cuts in and Wynne puts on the afterburners) – our squad (at forward primarily) doesn’t fit perfectly into the 4-5-1, but it really wouldn’t work with a 3-5-2, as we would need more confidence in our defensive game than most of us have.

  2. I just don’t see RB pulling off a victory in BMO. Those Canucks are gonna be at full volume after a couple wins (and more than a couple Molson’s) so far this year… with Angel coming off an injury I don’t see him playing with his characteristic precision. And I don’t know how Altidore will respond – he’s been close to losing control in a couple matches and I’m not sure he’ll be able to handle all the attention the Redpatch Boys will give him. And Leitch vs Robert? C’mon.

  3. I haven’t seen the TFC home games, but I think it would be crazy to start a 4-5-1 when you have the 12th man in the stands.

    They should move that to a 3-5-2 and starting pressing the attack high from the first minute.

    On the other hand, Ives formation and started for NY look right. 4-4-2 on the road. My guess is that the strategy will be to wear them down for the first 20 minutes/first half and look to attack on the counter rather than pressure them. A tie in Toronto would be a win for NY, so I’d look for them to play very defensively and just use the counter.

    If Toronto sits back and lets NY gain confidence and momentum, it could end badly for them. On the other hand,if they press high with multiple forwards, they’ll likely be able to dismantle NY.

    I’m guessing this ends Toronto 2 – 0 NY.

  4. Yes JCO did say that but he also said that this upcoming match with Toronto would probably be an exception. I thought the reason had to do with there not being a reserve game until May 18th, but I just looked at the schedule and the reserves are supposed to play tonight so I’m confused on that one. Either way, I think it was just some excuse. They are ready and the team needs them especially on a short week. I don’t see a way that Angel and Freeman don’t make it to the pitch.

  5. Didn’t JCO say that he wanted players coming off of injury to play one reserve match to prove their fitness before playing in League matches? I remember reading that and it has me a little suspicious that Angel might not play a full 90 if he plays at all. Part of me also thinks that JCO is going to have the team come out and just defend for a tie from the start

  6. hey ives,

    the Toronto FC vs. Red Bull is being shown live on ESPN here in Quito, Ecuador. The Thursday night game is always broadcast live here. ESPN shows all the champion league games, UEFA Cup, and Serie A and La Liga on weekends. It’s good to see an MLS game once a week as well. I think it’s shown though more because ESPN is a U.S. station than interest here, but hopefully with more South Americans coming to MLS (especially Argentina), the league will be more popular south of the equator.

  7. I’ve seen nothing from the Red Bulls this year that tells me they can win at BMO. I think they should consider themselves lucky to go home with a tie, but the only way I see that happening is if Jozy and JPA immediately show some mid-season chemistry even though it is only their first time sharing the pitch this season. Otherwise, I see TFC winning this one 2-1. Can’t wait for the game.

  8. is it a holiday in canada today? for many countries, today is a labor day. i know it’s celebrated in the u.s. in september, but i wasn’t sure about canada.

  9. I’m pretty excited for this game. Can’t wait to see Angel-Altidore together again, and I’ll basically watch any Toronto home game because of the atmosphere. Let’s go RBNY!

  10. I think Toronto is going to continue to roll, 2-0. RB will need monster games from Angel and Altidore if they’re to obtain any type of result.

  11. That “great toronto crowd” took the day off work. 🙂 some things are more important than food and rent!

  12. Hopefully that great Toronto crowd will make it! Because of the early start times, transit will cause a lot of people coming from work to be late for the game…

  13. Wide open indeed Trex, 3-2 or 4-3 even might be the outcome. Lots of attacking positive soccer from both sides tonight i think.

    Don’t discount the home crowd and El Lobo’s motivation to stick it to his old side. I see TFC coming out a goal ahead.

  14. I am so pumped for this match! Angel and Altidore, Guevara, Freeman is back, and it’s at Toronto so there will be great atmosphere. This one should be really fun to watch.

    I like the theory of DVB at left back and Borman on the wing. Like you said, those two if they push forward can keep Wynne and Ricketts busy playing defense and not making their own runs up the side. However, I bet MoJo is saying the same exact thing to Wynne and Ricketts to keep Borman and DVB from attacking much. That means lots of crosses for both sides and yes, a wide open affair.

  15. Dunivant is on the bench, personally I think he is a better left back than Brennan, but Brennan is captain Canada. I have a feeling Cunningham starts over Dichio tonight.

  16. I pumped for match again El Lobo and Wynne. Is Dunivant injured? Glad to see Juan Pablo and Hunter back in the starting 11. Let’s go Red Bulls!!!

  17. For TFC, it usually has been Brennan at LB this year and Velez in Central Defense with Marshall. So really the only potential change would be James in for Velez in CD.


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