MLS game preview

Red Bulls versus Toronto FC preview

June 12, 2009

Amidst a logjam of Eastern Conference teams tied with 16 points, Toronto FC has a chance to separate itself from the pack in its next two games.

On Saturday night, Toronto will play the first of two straight home games against the punchless New York Red Bulls, who have yet to score on the road this season.

Toronto (4-5-4) is tied with three other teams for spots three through six in the East. It appears to have a great chance to pick up six points in the next two games with New York (2-9-3), which will also visit BMO Field on June 24.

After consecutive MLS losses in which it has been outscored 5-1, Toronto is eager to fix its mistakes. It bolstered its roster Tuesday by acquiring defender Nick Garcia and the rights to forward Ali Gerba from San Jose for a draft pick.

"We are very happy to bring in a defender with Nick's experience," Toronto manager and director of soccer Mo Johnston said. "We tried to bring him in before and finally we were able to get a deal done. He plays 90 minutes every game, he's quick, and he knows this league inside and out."

Johnston could call upon Garcia to start right away. Defender Jim Brennan suffered an ankle injury in last Saturday's 2-1 loss to Los Angeles, and is listed as questionable.

Toronto did not have leading scorer Amado Guevara available last weekend, while he was on international duty for Honduras. It is unclear if Guevara will play Saturday.

Last-place New York is hoping this trip goes better than last week's two-game trek. The Red Bulls lost 2-0 at D.C. on June 4, and fell 4-0 at New England on Sunday.

Goals allowed late in a half continue to plague New York. The Red Bulls allowed New England to score the game's first goal in injury time of Sunday's first half, after letting in a goal in the 93rd minute of the loss to D.C.

"It's when there is injury time and stuff," New York defender Jeremy Hall said. "I don't know if people are falling asleep, thinking the ref is going to blow the whistle. Other teams keep figuring it out. They watch the tape and say well if we keep fighting then they will give up. That is what it seems like. It is just frustrating."

New York has been outscored 12-0 in going 0-6-1 on the road this year.

The Red Bulls believe there is still time to make the playoffs. They earned one of the last berths in 2008, and made a surprising run to their first MLS Cup.

"Well, that is the objective," New York coach Juan Carlos Osorio said of reaching the playoffs. "Until we don't have a chance, I will never deviate from that fact that we still can fight and win some games."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press