Red Bulls-Toronto FC Preview

National Sports

Interim head coach Javier Perez is expecting Toronto FC to become “stronger and stronger” after hitting some form during his short tenure.

A six-game losing run for the Reds, culminating in a humiliating 7-1 defeat to D.C United, led to the sacking of Chris Armas earlier this month.

Perez was placed in temporary charge and guided the Canadian club to a shock 3-2 win over Eastern Conference leaders New England Revolution in his first game in charge.

Toronto followed that up with a 1-1 draw against Orlando City on their return to BMO Field at the weekend, which Perez is hoping to build on with a win against New York Red Bulls.

“We’re happy with the performance against Orlando,” Perez said. “Obviously we wanted the three points but the performance is good.

“We’re going to build the team from here. We’re going to be stronger and stronger.

“Returning to BMO Field was a very special moment for the whole team to have the fans. That’s the strength that they give us. I think every player felt it tonight.”

Toronto have moved one place off the foot of the Western Conference division, which is now occupied by Inter Miami, whose game with NYRB was called off on Saturday due to bad weather.

The Red Bulls have drawn two and won one of their last three matches, leaving them level with the top seven.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Toronto FC – Jozy Altidore

After spending two months looking on from the outside following a rift with Armas, Altidore marked his return to the Toronto side with a goal as a second-half substitute against Orlando. The 31-year-old has scored 68 league goals in seven seasons with Toronto, including two goals in five games in 2021, and his return to the side is undoubtedly a huge positive for the Reds.

New York Red Bulls – Patryk Klimala

Klimala continued his impressive form with the opening goal for the Red Bulls in their 1-1 draw with Philadelphia Union earlier this month. The Polish forward has been involved in five of his side’s last seven goals, scoring twice and assisting three more since June 18.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– The Red Bulls are unbeaten in four straight meetings with Toronto FC (W3 D1). New York have just one longer unbeaten run against the Reds, going 10 straight without defeat from October 2009 to September 2013 (W7 D3).

– Toronto FC’s draw with Orlando City on Saturday took them to nine points through 13 matches this season, the fewest the Reds have had at this stage of a season since 2013 (eight points).

– The Red Bulls ended a nine-match away winless run (D3 L6, including playoffs) with a 2-1 win at Orlando in their last away match. New York have won consecutive away matches just once in the last 24 months, doing so in September 2020 with wins at D.C. United and Inter Miami.

– Altidore scored on his return to Toronto FC after not playing for over two months, scoring in Toronto FC’s return to BMO Field after over a year of playing in the United States. It was Altidore’s 39th goal at BMO Field in MLS play (including playoffs), only Sebastian Giovinco (41) has scored more goals on that ground.

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