WHAT IT MEANS: The Red Bulls pick up their sixth win of the season, in front of a home crowd of 15,269, jumping into first place in the MLS’ Eastern Conference with 28 points, one ahead of the Philadelphia Union.
Toronto FC remains tied for seventh place in the Eastern Conference (18 points) with the Chicago Fire.
“I think the first 15 minutes was an even game. ... After 15 minutes I felt that we found a kind of rhythm in our passing game, our movement,” said Red Bulls coach Hans Backe. “The second half -- the decision-making, when to get possession, when to go forward -- was perfect. ... Probably one of the better performances so far this year.”
THE SKINNY: After a slow start, the Red Bulls struck first, in the 33rd minute -- marking the 15th straight MLS game in which they have scored at least one goal in the first half. Jan Gunnar Solli struck a cross into the center of the box, which was tipped by Luke Rodgers and then tapped home in the lower-right corner by Thierry Henry.
Five minutes later, it was Rodgers’ turn, courtesy of another assist from Solli -- his team-leading sixth of the season. Rodgers blasted a ball from the center of the box into the top-left corner to make it 2-0.
After intermission, in the 52nd minute, Joel Lindpere drove home a shot into the lower-left corner, off an assist from fellow midfielder Dane Richards. This goal came directly on the heels of Toronto FC’s best scoring chance of the night, a shot by Javier Martina that hit the left post.
The fourth goal of the evening came via a corner kick by Lindpere, headed home by substitute forward Juan Agudelo in the 67th minute. The fifth and final goal was also scored by Agudelo -- this time off his right foot, again via a Lindpere assist after a poor Toronto attempted clearance. They were the third and fouth goals of the season for the 18-year-old Agudelo, and Lindpere’s fourth and fifth assists of the year.
HIGH SCORER: With his goal in the first half, Henry broke a three-way tie for the MLS scoring lead with Los Angeles Galaxy forward Landon Donovan and D.C. United forward Charlie Davies. He now has nine goals in 14 games on the season. Henry looked healthy, after sitting out Saturday’s game against the San Jose Earthquakes at Stanford Stadium with flu-like symptoms.
WELCOME BACK: Rodgers had missed the team’s past four games with plantar fasciitis. His goal was his sixth of the season -- second on the team, behind only Henry. Rodgers exited in the 56th minute, replaced by Agudelo.
Rodgers was noticeably limping in the second half. “I’m still not 100 percent,” Rodgers said. “I don’t feel right right now.”
ON FIRE: Lindpere’s goal was his fifth of the season, and his fourth in the team’s past three games. He is the reigning MLS Player of the Week after scoring twice in the team’s draw at San Jose on Saturday. Lindpere also had a goal waved off just before intermission, when the referee called a foul on Rodgers in the box.
CLEAN SHEET: Goalkeeper Greg Sutton did not face much heat from Toronto FC on this night. Nevertheless, considering the Red Bulls’ struggles in goal of late, they’ll be delighted with the shutout, the team's first since April 30. Final shots total? New York 17, Toronto 8.
TAKE A SEAT: Midfielder Teemu Tainio picked up a yellow card in the 59th minute for boisterously disagreeing with a decision by the referee, and will have to sit out the Red Bulls’ next match because of yellow-card accumulation.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Red Bulls will be back in action on Saturday, hosting D.C. United at 7:30 p.m. United is currently in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, with 19 points.