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MLS Preview: New York Red Bulls at Toronto FC

Jul 20, 2013, 9:30 AM EDT

Cahill-Red Bulls
  • The Red Bulls are 9-4-3 all-time against TFC and undefeated in their last eight games (6-0-2) of the series
  • Toronto has been shut out in seven of its last 11 matches
  • New York is coming off a high quality 4-0 win over Montreal

For New York and first year head coach MikePetke, the ingredients are there. Here and there, the flashes of something great have arrived, as with last week’s dominant 4-0 win over Montreal.

What remains missing around Red Bull Arena is the consistency. Still led nobly by Thierry Henry and his penchant for the spectacular, and by Jamison Olave’s formidable presence in the back, the Red Bulls win and then the Red Bulls lose. They mix in a draw and so it goes – but where is the big run?

New York’s one little stretch of high-caliber success came in late April and early May, when Petke’s bunch won four in a row. But that one served only to pull the Red Bulls back even with the pack, helping to mitigate an opening eight-game stretch that included just two wins and seemed to threaten Petke’s coaching career before it ever really achieved liftoff.

Things have stabilized now, and such a run would do much more than just pull the team level with the field; It would go a long way to securing the Red Bulls playoff positioning in a packed Eastern Conference Field, where five teams are jostling for positioning and three others are within reach of elbowing someone out.

Last time the Red Bulls went on a run, it started with a big win at home (4-1 over New England) and then a trip into BMO Field. So …

Can Petke’s team stir up the memories and do the same following last week’s signature win over Montreal, which is being chased by the season’s second trip into Toronto’s home ground?

Tim Cahill (pictured above) scored twice in the teams’ previous meeting around Exhibition Place in Toronto. That was his long-awaited Red Bulls’ breakthrough, his first goal of 2013 and just his second since arriving last summer from Everton. The longtime Aussie international now has five goals, including some important ones for one of the Eastern Conference favorites.

The opportunity will certainly be there today when the team kick off at 4 p.m. ET (MLSSoccer.com’s official match preview is here). Toronto has been shut out in seven of its last 11 matches, with just seven total goals in that very dry stretch. Further, the team’s rebuilding efforts (it’s latest rebuilding, that is) appears to be going slow under manager Ryan Nelsen, whose choices sometimes seem at odds with management’s larger personnel plan.

Toronto was blanked last weekend at Sporting Kansas City (3-0) and then again during the week at Chivas USA (1-0).

“It is a learning experience for the young guys,” Nelsen told MLSSoccer.com of the match in California. “I thought they did well and worked really hard. If we could have got that one goal, it would probably have led to a comfortable two or three goals for us. They would have had to come out of their shell and play and we would have been fine. We just couldn’t get the goal.”

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