Toronto FC-Red Bulls Preview
The New York Red Bulls are finding their scoring touch at the right time despite an injury to one of their top goal scorers.
There's a slim possibility Tim Cahill could play as New York looks to improve its chances of remaining atop the Eastern Conference by extending its unbeaten streak against Toronto FC to 10 on Saturday night at Red Bull Arena.
Cahill, tied with Thierry Henry for second on the team with eight goals, tore a ligament in his right ankle in a 2-1 win over D.C. on Aug. 31, scoring a goal before the injury.
The midfielder sat out Sunday's 4-1 win over Houston, and coach Mike Petke isn't sure Cahill will be able to play this match after not participating in practice.
"I'm not planning on Tim starting," Petke told the league's official website. "It's not unlikely, but I'm not planning on that. But perhaps he could be coming off the bench or perhaps we're going to rest him one more week."
The offense still shined without Cahill on Sunday, as Henry scored and midfielder Jonny Steele finished with a goal and an assist. The Red Bulls (13-9-6), tied with Montreal and Sporting Kansas City for first place in the East, have scored eight goals in their last three matches after being shut out in their previous two.
"It's probably one of the better 90-minute performances on the road we've put in," Steele said. "We've got six games left, so we've got to keep going and push for the Supporters' Shield."
New York is 6-0-3 in its last nine meetings with Toronto, winning four straight at home. Cahill scored both goals in a 2-1 victory April 27 before the clubs played to a scoreless draw July 20.
Toronto (4-13-11) doesn't appear headed to the postseason and is 0-3-3 in its last six. It salvaged a 1-all tie with Chicago on Wednesday as Robert Earnshaw scored the tying goal in the 23rd minute.
Earnshaw, the team's leading scorer with seven goals, injured his hamstring on the play and didn't return. He doesn't think he'll be healthy enough to go against the Red Bulls.
"It's just a little bit of bad luck, but hopefully I'm back soon," Earnshaw said. "The ground gave way in front of me and made me overstretch, that's what's more annoying. With New York, I think I'll be very doubtful and we'll just see how it recovers."
While Toronto sits in ninth place in the East, coach Ryan Nelsen was impressed how his team competed against playoff-hopeful Chicago.
"What I love about the guys is that we were the team that should have been falling over and not making those runs and not working hard considering our position (in the standings)," Nelsen said. "I think any neutrals watching the game would not have known which team was really pushing for that playoff spot."
New York has a 23-5 scoring advantage during its unbeaten run against Toronto.