The New York Red Bulls needed a win against Toronto FC on Saturday to really boost their playoff chances, but for a team with just two road wins all year, a draw was probably the more realistic goal.
Toronto FC nearly left the Red Bulls with zero points, but Thierry Henry stepped up to save New York one more time, collecting a Dax McCarty' corner kick and hitting a perfect turn and shot in the 88th minute to help the Red Bulls salvage a 1-1 draw at BMO Field.
The draw helped New York extend its lead on D.C. United for the final MLS playoff spot to two points (and three points on Portland), but with D.C. set to play Columbus and Portland facing Vancouver on Sunday, the Red Bulls could very well be out of a playoff spot by the time they return to action on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Toronto FC opened the scoring in the 49th minute courtesy of Rafa Marquez. The beleaguered Mexican star, playing his first match since being suspended for criticizing teammates, capped another awful performance with a turnover that TFC quickly turned into the opening goal. Torsten Frings picked off a Marquez pass and dished it to Ryan Johnson, who beat Marquez down the field before laying the ball off to Danny Koevermans. The Dutch striker's perfectly-timed run beat Tim Ream's attempt at an offside trap. Koevermans converted the pass, beating Frank Rost to give Toronto a 1-0 lead.
The Red Bulls looked doomed for another road loss, but Henry saved the day again, scoring his 13th goal of the season, one behind D.C. United's Dwayne DeRosario for the league lead.
The match was an other disappointing display for Marquez, who was deployed in a defensive midfield role and failed to make the impact expected of him. Along with committing the turnover that led to Toronto's goal, his effort in tracking back to try and stop Johnson was pitiful, and couldn't have pleased Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe, who replaced Marquez with McCarty in the 80th minute.
Toronto FC played an admirable match, with Torsten Frings and Koevermans impressing yet again. The young and rebuilt team is out of the playoff picture, but with an eye toward 2012, and with a CONCACAF Champions League decider against FC Dallas on Oct. 18 still to play, things are looking up for TFC.
New York returns to action on Tuesday, with a match against the Galaxy at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls could be in for some luck, with the Galaxy expected to rest some starters for the match after posting a 2-1 win against Real Salt Lake to move closer to clinching a second straight Supporters Shield.