Thierry Henry scores the go-ahead goal in the Red Bulls’ victory.
It was hardly work of art from the Red Bulls, but they finished Saturday in first place in the Eastern Conference – courtesy of a 2-0 victory over hapless Toronto FC.
Thierry Henry hit the go-ahead goal and Fabian Espindola sealed the victory in the second half, pushing the Red Bulls three points above both Montreal – which lost Saturday to Columbus – and Kansas City – which plays Tuesday.
Without injured Tim Cahill (ankle) and Lloyd Sam (groin), the Red Bulls (14-9-6) controlled the pace, for the most part, but couldn’t muster much offense until the 32nd minute, when Henry pushed in a cross to cap a pretty sequence.
After scoring his ninth goal of the season, Henry stood by the goalpost with his head down for a couple seconds, before joining the celebration with teammates.
The play started with a pass from Michael Bustamante into the box to Dax McCarty, who then fed it across the net. Henry, making a run toward the goal, slid into the ball for the easy score. It was the second straight game Henry found the net. The Red Bulls have won three straight — all coming after Henry and coach Mike Petke got into a heated confrontation during a training session.
Up until that point, the Red Bulls’ best chance – and only one, really – was a volley from McCarty hit into goalie Joe Bendik.
It took a small scuffle to get them going again.
Things got testy in the 77th minute, when Kimura was tripped by Jonas Elmer and was hit in the face by a ball kicked another Columbus player, Jonathan Osorio.
The kick from Osorio came after the whistle and just inches from Kimura’s face. The Red Bulls, particularly McCarty, rushed in to take issue with Osorio, igniting a brief shoving match. However, the referee deemed the play inadvertent and didn’t hand out any cards.
About a minute later, Espindola, who entered as a sub, sealed the win with a header that defied geometry, falling inside the far post from a shot by the goal line on the opposite side. His tight-angled shot – perhaps meant to be a cross – traveled over the goalie, representing Espindola’s eighth goal of the season.
Toronto (4-14-11) is winless in its last seven games. It mustered just two shots on goal.