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Life or Death for New York Red Bulls in Leg Two Against Toronto FC: Preview

Toronto FC vs. New York Red Bulls (Leg 2)
2017 MLS Cup Playoffs – Eastern Conference Semifinals
BMO Field
Nov. 5, 2017 (3pm ET)

(Toronto, ON)- The first leg of the MLS Eastern Conference semifinals last Monday did not go as planned for the New York Red Bulls. At home, they were hoping to notch an underdog victory and set themselves up to eliminate Toronto FC from the playoffs. That is not what transpired. Instead, New York finds themselves heading into the second leg down 2-1 after giving up two away goals.

Life or Death for New York Red Bulls in Leg Two Against Toronto FC: Preview


Jesse Marsch will almost certainly stick with his usual XI, the same that came out against TFC in the first leg at Red Bull Arena.

However, because of the need for goals in this tie, expect some early subs depending on the run of play. If the score is the same, or worse for RBNY, by the second half, expect a substitute early. Gonzalo Veron should come on and be given as much time as possible to make the impact he usually does off the bench. He will likely come on for winger Sean Davis, depending on his performance. In a desperate scenario, Marsch may elect to put Veron on for Michael Amir Murillo. Offense on for defense may be necessary for the visitors here.


Individual performances must all be near perfect for the Red Bulls to be successful on Sunday. A few players that need to step up for the second leg are Murillo, Felipe Martins, and Sacha Kljestan.

Murillo was less than satisfactory in the last match. He struggled to keep up with Toronto’s offense, and was often unable to physically compete with Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore. As a result, the right center back committed numerous unnecessary fouls, which cannot happen against such a dangerous set-piece team. Murillo must be better this leg and keep his composure if the Red Bulls even want a chance at advancing.

Felipe is one of the more consistent players this squad has. He did not have a terrible game last Monday, but he did fail to command the midfield as much as he normally does. He did not halt the advance of TFC as much as Jesse Marsch needs him to. For Sunday, he must command more respect. If he gets a few stops early in the game, he can set the tone for the match.

When Kljestan plays well, the team plays well. He had something of a sloppy game in the first leg. His passes were not always on point, he had multiple giveaways, etc. The bottom line: the captain needs to put on a better performance if the Red Bulls are to contend on Sunday afternoon.

Match-Up to Watch

Justin Morrow (TFC) vs. Tyler Adams (RBNY)

These two wing-back type players always have an incredible effect on how their team plays overall. Adams is imperative to New York’s scheme at stopping the TFC attack progression. He did well in leg one with recovery runs and stopping the ball, but he’ll need to do that and more to propel the Red Bulls. Morrow will need to make sure he does not get caught up high and beat down the wing. If he gets caught, RBNY will find themselves with opportunities to get crosses in and exploit gaps in the back line. That is the last thing Toronto wants to do, especially at home when they have a lead to protect.

If Toronto gets a hold on this game early, it may be over just like that. However, if the Red Bulls come out and dictate the ebb and flow of play, MLS fans tuning in on ESPN will be in for quite a treat.

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