TFC has been one of the biggest disappointments in MLS this season and I was curious to see how they looked under former New England assistant Paul Mariner.
Mariner is so much fun to watch on the sidelines. Dressed in shorts and wearing sunglasses, Mariner kicks every ball. He is like a hyper Jose Mourinho on the touchline, encouraging, cajoling and positioning his players. And it seems to be working as Toronto is 1-1-3. That record could have been even better had the team not given up two-goal leads against Houston and New England, having to settle for a draw in both cases.
I was also curious to see the Red Bulls, who have reestablished themselves as one of the best sides in the East. New York was without Mexican international Rafa Marquez (thigh) but they did have Thierry Henry, who gauging from the number of Arsenal shirts in the crowd, was who the majority of the 20,071 fans at BMO Field came to see.
Red Bulls got off to a great start when they scored after only four minutes when Jan Gunnar Solli was left unmarked at the back pist to tap in a cross from Brandon Barklage.
Less than three minutes later TFC had equalized when Danny Koevermans rose unmarked to head in a Torsten Frings corner. Unfortunately those were the only two goals in the game.
It was hot (31C) and the heat turned this into a midfield battle. There was none of the end to end action that I had been expecting.
Surprisingly, New York seemed to be content with a draw and expect for a couple of long range efforts from Thierry Henry, they never really threatened the Toronto goal.
That left Toronto to push the game and that is something they are not yet equipped to do. As Mariner said after the game:
“I think what you can recognize a little bit is that it’s not beautiful flowing football, but we are a little harder to beat than we have been in the past,” said Paul Mariner, who took over from Aron Winter on June 7.
“I think that if you become a hard team to beat in this league and you stay in the game, Ryan [Johnson] and Danny [Koevermans] and Torsten [Frings] with his service — you might be able to nick something,” Mariner said.