Sunday, 2 October 2011

Toronto FC 1-1 New York Red Bulls: TFC eliminated from postseason contention by late Thierry Henry equalizer

Rafa Marquez returned to the starting lineup but in midfield. New York hasn't won with the Mexican international in the lineup since April 30.

By Zac Lee Rigg

A 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls mathematically eliminated Toronto FC from playoff contention on Saturday night.

"Up until five minutes before the end of the game I think that they played very well," TFC coach Aron Winter said. "It's a pity because we deserved more."

TFC took the lead at home. Rafael Marquez, reinstated into the lineup after being suspended against the Portland Timbers for some ill-advised comments about his teammates, coughed up the ball softly in midfield. The only thing more tepid than his lackadaisical attempts to chase play back into the Red Bulls' half was Tim Ream's ability to hold an offside line. Danny Koevermans took advantage of the American's positional naivety to pop up alone on goal. The Dutchman's low shot clipped Frank Rost on its way in.

New York is still chasing a playoff spot and cranked up the pressure late. Luke Rodgers brashly skied a close shot after a delicate Thierry Henry feed set him loose and substitute Juan Agudelo headed a corner narrowly wide with his first touch of the game.

On another corner, the ball bounced invitingly in the box. Henry flicked it behind him, spun in a circle, and tucked the ball into the corner of the net, all in one fluid motion in the 88th minute.

"When he controlled it, the first touch was phenomenal, and he finished off with his left foot," NY coach Hans Backe said. "Anyone can see he is a class player." Henry himself was more insouciant in his appraisal of the goal: "I controlled it and put it in the back of the net."

The sublime bit of skill gave New York a point in the playoff chase in a match which killed Toronto's postseason hopes.

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