BY MIKE NASTRI
Joel Lindpere's first half goal was the only difference between the New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC at Red Bull Arena.
Lindpere's second MLS goal keeps the Red Bulls in second place, five points ahead of Toronto. After two straight ties, New York was finally able to find that decisive goal.
The Estonian international coolly slotted a one touch shot past Toronto keeper Stefan Frei. The cheeky chip to Lindpere came from Seth Stammler, but Thierry Henry did all the heavy lifting.
After nearly drawing a penalty kick a minute earlier, Henry kept possession in the midst of three defenders and then found Stammler. The assist for Henry was his third in three MLS games for the Red Bulls, but has still not found the back of the net in a regular season match.
"It squirted to me, I took a touch and I saw Joel kinda even with the line and I saw he was ready to break," said Seth Stammler. " I just did a little scoop and those ones are always nice if they come off right, but I'm probably going to get yelled at if it doesn't turn out. I'm fortunate that it did and obviously he [Lindpere] did well to finish it from a tough angle. All in all, a good play."
While that was the one chance that was finished, both teams had their chances to score. Thierry Henry thought he had drawn a PK in the 22nd minute when Toronto keeper Stefan Frei came out to meet a streaking Henry. Frei got a piece of Henry, who fell to the turf but head ref Ricardo Salazar simply waived his finger at the French star.
"For me it was a penalty, but the ref didn't call it," said Henry. "It's not really important, the most important thing was to win against Toronto and we have done it."
The lone difference in the match came just a minute after the near PK. Toronto head coach Preki was livid at the officials because of a possible missed foul committed by Juan Pablo Angel that led up to the goal.
"I thought it was a clear foul on Adriann Cann, and the referee doesn't blow the whistle," said Preki. "I was so frustrated because, and I really don't want to sound like a crybaby, but we couldn't really get a call."
Toronto actually tallied one more shot than the Red Bulls, but their missed opportunities were their downfall.
"It's on us, the game is definitely on us," said Toronto captain Dwayne De Rosario. "We gave them one opportunity and I don't think Stef [Frei] had much to do besides Angel header in the second half. Other than that he [Frei] didn't have much and it's good to look at that."
The Red Bulls on the other hand take away the three points in a match that didn't play their best, especially early in the match.
"Maybe today wasn't our best performance, but we won the game it was very important against the Toronto team," said Henry.
"At times we played well and at times we were losing possession pretty easily," said captain Juan Pablo Angel. "In a game that there was much on it, it was important to get the three points. And we got it done."
The next big test for the Red Bulls is just three days away against the Western Conference leading LA Galaxy at Red Bull Arena. A win would signify to the rest of MLS that the Red Bulls are a serious contender for this year's MLS Cup. A loss will continue to leave doubt that New York, despite being the first team with three Designated Players, cannot beat an elite MLS squad.