New York Red Bulls boss Gerhard Struber is wary of the threat they will face against Toronto, but believes his side are in a good spot after losing just one of their last eight MLS games.
Struber’s side are fourth in the Eastern Conference standings, three points behind table-topping rivals NYCFC, and beat the Canadian outfit 4-1 on the road earlier this season.
Despite that previous result, the Austrian played up the strengths of Bob Bradley’s men ahead of their trip to New York.
“Right now it’s clear that Toronto are coming, we know that they have a big power in counter-pressing and counter-regain moments,” he said.
“In Toronto they changed a little bit their style, it’s more direct, more with long balls, and yeah, in this scenario we play in, our concept and our hope for the next three points at home I think, the last two days, it looks good from the training side.
“The boys are ready.”
Bradley’s visitors, meanwhile, are third-from-bottom in the Eastern Conference, but have taken four points from their previous two outings after a 3-2 win over Chicago Fire.
The former United States boss hailed his side’s resilience in their recent contests, but highlighted the need for their defensive record to improve if they are to climb the table.
“The team has shown a strong mentality, a resilience,” he said. “In moments when we’ve had some games go against us, we’ve still kept at it in a good way.
“That part, of mentality and resilience, sometimes finding ways to win when the football is not as good as we want it to be, those are all important things.
“There’s been some moments in recent games where the group that has needed to drop back quickly and defend has done a good job, but I still feel like we can do a better job of not allowing those moments to happen.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
New York Red Bulls – Lewis Morgan
The Scottish winger scored a stunning hat-trick as the Bulls thrashed Toronto at the start of the season, the first of his seven goals so far this term, and could provide a significant goal threat again.
Toronto FC – Alejandro Pozuelo
Pozuelo has netted five goals so far this season, including two in Toronto’s win over the Fire last time out, and will be hoping to continue his fine form in New York.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– The Red Bulls are unbeaten in six straight matches against Toronto (W4 D2), including a 4-1 away win on March 5. This is New York’s second-longest unbeaten run against Toronto after going 10 straight without a loss from October 2009 to September 2013 (W7 D3).
– The Red Bulls have won only one of their last six games (D3 L2) following a 2-0 loss at Charlotte on Saturday. The only win in that time is New York’s only home win of the season, a 4-1 victory over D.C. United on May 28.
– Toronto FC are winless in 15 straight away matches (D5 L10) dating back to a 2-1 win in Chicago last July, the longest road winless streak in the team’s history. The Reds have managed three points in their seven away matches in 2022, including a 2-2 draw at D.C. in their last road match.
– The Red Bulls attempted just seven shots in their loss to Charlotte on Saturday, ending a run of 27 straight games with at least 10 shots attempted (incl. playoffs). That equaled the second-longest streak in MLS in the last decade, with only LAFC’s 63 straight games from 2018-20 being longer.
– Toronto FC have gone a club-record 22 straight games without a clean sheet dating back to last September, including all 14 matches this season. The Reds have kept one clean sheet in their last 44 MLS matches.