Red Bulls thump lowly Toronto FC
Thierry Henry scored a goal and set up three others and Kenny Cooper had two goals and an assist to lead the New York Red Bulls to a 4-1 victory over Toronto FC on Saturday night, solidifying their chances to earn an Eastern Conference playoff spot.
Markus Holgersson also scored for the Red Bulls (15-8-8), who pulled even with Chicago for second place in the East - five points behind Sporting Kansas City - and improved to 11-1-3 at home.
Luis Robles, making his debut in goal for the Red Bulls, replacing the injured Bill Gaudette, made four saves in net to earn his first MLS victory.
Ryan Johnson scored in the 6th minute to give Toronto FC (5-19-7) an early lead.
The Red Bulls scored twice in a 14-minute span of the first half to take the lead. Henry hit a perfect corner kick in the 13th minute to the box, where Holgersson headed it home for the equalizer. In the 27th minute, Henry's pretty heel pass set up Cooper for the go-ahead score.
Henry then made the play to set up the next score, drawing the defenders to him, then finding Cooper in front in the 88th minute. It gave Cooper 16 goals on the season, second in MLS behind Chris Wondolowski. The three assists gave Henry 12 for the season , and he capped the night with his 14th goal from 25 yards out in stoppage time with Cooper getting the assist.
Toronto FC had a golden opportunity to take an early lead in the very first minute. Quincy Amarikwa broke free on the left flank and took a left-footed shot that eluded Robles but hit the right post.
Five minutes later, Toronto FC was the first to get on the scoreboard, when Johnson unfurled a left-footed blast from 40 yards out that bent its way to the far high left corner of the net, a shot that a stunned Robles never had a chance to stop.
It marked the eighth time this season the Red Bulls allowed a goal in the first 10 minutes of a match. However, the early goal seemed to inspire New York, which took control of the match soon after.
In the 13th minute, Henry took a corner kick that was perfectly placed into the box. Defender Holgersson emerged from the pack in front and re-directed the cross with his head for his third goal of the season to tie the score 1-1.
The Red Bulls had another great chance to score in the 19th minute, when Cooper's left-footed blast was pushed aside by Toronto goalkeeper Freddy Hall.
The Red Bulls scored in the 27th minute when midfielder Lloyd Sam, getting his first MLS start, made a brilliant move with the ball and pushed it ahead to Henry. The Red Bulls' captain then touched the ball with his heel to Cooper, left all alone in front of the net. Cooper converted the easy goal. Cooper later added his 16th goal of the year, moving six behind Wondolowski.
Sam and Henry were masterful throughout the first half with their ball handling, leaving Toronto's defenders befuddled and unable to defend them. Sam had at least three sensational moves with the ball, leading to solid crosses and scoring chances. Sam also made an unbelievable 85-yard run from box-to-box to make a sliding tackle and take away a scoring opportunity in the 50th minute. Sam left in the 58th minute with an injury, replaced by Jan Gunnar Solli.
The Red Bulls had an excellent chance to push the lead in the opening minute of the second half, but defender Wilman Conde's left-footed shot from six yards out traveled wide right.
Toronto FC countered with a great chance, but Jeremy Hall's blast from 18 yards out was caught by Robles.
Henry had a good chance in the 48th minute, when his left-footed shot went wide right, with Hall deflecting the attempt with his right hand.
The Red Bulls put the capper on the win, when Henry made a fine play, drawing three defenders to him in the box, then finding Cooper for the 3-1 lead. Henry made it a perfect night with his goal from 25 yards out in stoppage time.