A huge win against the best team in Major League Soccer saved the New York Red Bulls from postseason elimination. Now a similar effort against the league’s worst team is absolutely necessary for the Red Bulls.
Three days after winning at FC Cincinnati, the Red Bulls will attempt to get three more crucial points Saturday night when they host Toronto FC in Harrison, N.J.
New York (9-13-10, 37 points) begins its penultimate match in 12th place in the Eastern Conference and one point behind ninth-place CF Montreal, which has two more wins. New York also would need to climb over D.C. United and New York City FC to reach the postseason. NYCFC has 38 points and D.C. has 37 with one match to play.
The Red Bulls last missed the playoffs in 2009 and kept alive their chances by taking the lead early in Wednesday’s 2-1 win at Cincinnati. Frankie Amaya and Elias Manoel scored five minutes apart early in the first half in a match that saw the Red Bulls attempt 15 shots.
“We’re in a position right now that’s outside of the playoffs,” New York interim coach Troy Lesesne said. “There’s so many things in place that have taken so much time to get in the right order. We have a lot more work to do.”
The Red Bulls head into their final home match 2-1-2 over their past five following a three-match losing streak, but getting another win may not help their cause.
D.C. United are facing NYCFC on Saturday, and Montreal is hosting Portland. Wins by NYCFC or Montreal get those teams to 41 points.
Since its surprising 3-1 home win over Philadelphia on Aug. 30, Toronto (4-18-10, 22) has been outscored 15-3 in a five-game skid. After taking a 3-2 loss to Cincinnati last week, Toronto took a 3-0 loss to Charlotte FC on Wednesday, marking the 16th time the Reds have been blanked.
“We’re very frustrated with how the season has gone,” Toronto’s Jonathan Osorio said. “We know that we’ve let our fans down. We know we’ve let ourselves down in a lot of these games. You would hope that a bounce or two would go our way and it just seems like we can’t even make that happen.”
One of Toronto’s previous goalless performances may prevent the Red Bulls from reaching the playoffs. The last meeting in Toronto between the clubs on May 17 was a 0-0 draw when the teams produced three shots on goal apiece.