Red Bulls-Toronto FC Preview
Toronto FC is earning points more consistently under coach Paul Mariner, but a matchup with the New York Red Bulls could make it difficult to continue that trend.
In its return home following a decisive victory, Toronto will seek to end a five-game winless skid to the New York Red Bulls on Saturday night.
Toronto (2-10-2) is 1-1-2 in its four games under Mariner and unbeaten over its last three. When Aron Winter stepped down June 7, the club had earned its first win after dropping an MLS-record nine in a row to begin the season.
The latest match in Mariner's tenure was arguably its best yet, and Danny Koevermans punctuated that 3-0 rout in Montreal on Wednesday by adding to his recent scoring binge.
The forward scored his fourth goal in three games and his team-best seventh in the 78th minute to seal Mariner's first victory. Ryan Johnson added his second in as many contests and gave Toronto eight goals over its last three games, matching its output from its first 11 matches.
"I think they've always had the confidence. We just couldn't get the wins," said Mariner, formerly the team's director of player development.
Toronto's confidence could soar if it can snap an 0-4-1 winless streak against New York (9-4-3), which might have Thierry Henry back in the starting lineup.
The veteran forward, who is second on the team with nine goals, played the final 21 minutes in Sunday's 3-2 win over D.C. United that ended New York's three-match winless skid. A strained right calf has kept him from starting since a 1-all draw with Chivas USA on May 23.
"You've got to respect him," Mariner said. "He's an absolute legend."
The Red Bulls, however, won't have midfielder Rafa Marquez available due to a thigh injury, and defenders Wilman Conde (groin) and Markus Holgersson (ankle) might also sit out.
"The most annoying thing at the moment is that we can't play with the same team two games in a row," coach Hans Backe said. "Normally, you would like to play three or four games with the same team, being consistent, but it helps with the depth we have now."
New York will seek to post its third win streak of the campaign despite those potential absences. The Red Bulls' other eight victories came via a five-game win streak April 28-May 19 and a three-game run March 25-April 7.
They'll also seek a second win in the last three visits to BMO Field. The Red Bulls played to a 1-all draw there Oct. 1, with Henry scoring the tying goal in the 88th minute to negate a tally by Koevermans.
Henry also scored one of New York's goals during a 5-0 rout at Red Bull Arena on July 6.