A recent slump has dropped the New York Red Bulls out of the top spot in the Eastern Conference. After a winless four-game road stretch, they appear to have a solid opportunity to pick up an elusive victory.
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Thierry Henry and Luke Rodgers should be back in the lineup when the Red Bulls look for their fourth straight win over Toronto FC on Wednesday night.
New York (5-3-10), two points behind East-leading Philadelphia, concluded an 0-1-3 trip with a 2-all draw versus San Jose on Saturday. The Red Bulls are 1-2-8 in their last 11 games, a stretch in which they’ve let late leads and potential victories slip away.
Miscues and missed opportunities cost New York in Portland, Seattle and Chicago before Joel Lindpere scored his second goal of the game in the 85th minute to forge the draw Saturday.
Henry, tied for the MLS lead with eight goals, was out with flu-like symptoms and Rodgers sat out with plantar fasciitis, though both expect to be in the lineup against Toronto.
Dax McCarty made his Red Bulls debut against San Jose after being acquired from D.C. for Dwayne De Rosario on June 27. McCarty played all 90 minutes.
"I told him after the game, ‘Man it’s great to have you here,’" forward Juan Agudelo told the team’s official website. "He helped us a lot in this game. He’s going to help us a lot in the future."
Rafa Marquez is expected to miss at least two more games with a hamstring injury.
Assistant Jan Halvorsen filled in for coach Hans Backe on Saturday after Backe had minor surgery earlier in the week. Halvorsen was happy that New York at least earned mostly ties instead of losses on the trip.
"We have to be realistic," Halvorsen said. "We played four games on the road. As long as we get points."
Getting three against Toronto (3-7-9) would be a boost. The Red Bulls have won three straight in the series by a combined 10-1, and they’ve taken five of the teams’ six meetings at home.
Toronto ended a nine-match MLS winless streak with a 1-0 victory over Vancouver on Nick Soolsma’s penalty kick in the 54th minute last Wednesday. It beat Vancouver again Saturday to win a third consecutive Canadian championship, which qualified it for the CONCACAF Champions League.
Toronto’s minus-12 goal differential is the worst in MLS.
"It’s massive just to get any wins, no matter what cup it’s in," defender Richard Eckersley told the team’s official website. "It brings the lads together; you could see everyone on the pitch, we’re all best mates, and we need that because we have two tough games next week that we need to get some points on."
Eckersley shifted from right back into the middle for the most recent match to help compensate for the injury to Dicoy Williams. It’s uncertain if Eckersley will play that position again Wednesday.
Toronto’s only road victory over New York came Oct. 4, 2008, when it won 3-1.