The New York Red Bulls make the relatively short trip north to Rentschler Field to face a red-hot Toronto FC team looking to slow them down as they improve their position on the Eastern Conference table.
Because of Canada's COVID-19 travel restrictions, East Hartford has been a home away from home for Toronto FC. Despite not playing a single game at their home ground since September 1st, they have made the best of their situation by winning five straight matches. As a result, they now sit on top of the Eastern Conference, clinching a playoff spot in the process.
Despite the contrast in styles, the match would start pretty even between the two sides. The Red Bulls did very well weathering the storm when Toronto FC would attack. On the other end of the pitch, The Red Bulls' chances would be snuffed out by a Toronto FC defense that surrendered only two goals during their five-game unbeaten streak.
But it was Toronto FC that would be the first team to get on the scoreboard in the 22nd minute. Off a corner kick, Nick DeLeon passed the ball to Ayo Akinola in the box. But Akinola took a shot, which bounced right to Dru Yearwood's hand, was then called for a handball in the penalty area. Alejandro Pozuelo converted the penalty kick for his 8th goal of the season.
Yearwood would nearly redeem himself in the 33rd minute with a blistering shot from outside the box, but before the Red Bulls could celebrate, the equalizer would not count, as Tom Barlow was correctly called offside by the official.
The second half began just like the first, only this time, the Red Bulls would be a goal behind. They nearly had a chance to equalize in the 56th minute when Omar Gonzalez headed the ball the wrong way, right to the feet of Tom Barlow, who found himself one-on-one with Toronto goalkeeper Quintin Westberg. However, Westberg was up to the task, stopping Barlow's shot from point-blank range.
Defense Holds, The Kid Strikes
Red Bulls' defensive corps, leaf by Tim Parker, have kept the team in the match with timely stops, especially when Alejandro Pozuelo lead the attack. The defender's efforts would be rewarded when young Caden Clark, whose first goal won the match against Atlanta three days ago, would follow up with a beauty of a shot to equalize the match in the 77th minute.
Interim Coach Bradley Carnell talked about Clark's second goal after the match:
"Yeah listen, it’s a kid playing high right now, high on life and high on the energy of making his debut, and things are falling into place. He has certain qualities, when all of this comes together and the kid has a chuckle in his boots, yeah, I mean, there’s wonders that can happen.
Again, we see it all the time, it’s great that he can express himself in this way, and in this manner, and expose teams, and find the right moments. And I thought it was the right point to bring him in the game. We thought that the game opened up slightly, we knew we were going to find him in certain pockets of space, and it’s exactly how he scores the goal. All credit to him, and the kid bails us out again."
The two teams would exchange scoring chances late into the match before referee Guido Gonzales Jr. blew the final whistle, giving the Red Bulls a well-deserved draw on the road against the best teams of the Eastern Conference.