Sep 22, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore (17) plays the ball defended by New York Red Bulls midfielder Tyler Adams (4) during the first half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
The young playmaker netted his fifth goal of the season — and fifth game-winner — to help lift the Red Bulls to a 2-0 win over Toronto FC Saturday at Red Bull Arena.
Kaku slipped a ball through a maze of Toronto FC players before it ultimately deflected in off Michael Bradley in the 70th minute as the Red Bulls secured three massive points to remain in the Supporters’ Shield race.
New York (18-7-5) trails Atlanta United, who defeated Real Salt Lake, 2-0, on Saturday night, by four points heading into a showdown between the Eastern Conference sides next Sunday at Red Bull Arena.
“It’s an important win, especially emotionally and with what’s coming up,” Kaku said through a translator. “It’s important for the playoffs, but we also want to be first and beat Atlanta to first place.”
Second-half substitute Derrick Etienne started the sequence, making an endline run before sending a deflected cross in front of goal. Bradley Wright-Phillips challenged Alex Bono, who spilled the ball to Kaku.
“They’re all important, the ones that Brad scores, the ones that Danny [Royer] scores, the ones the team scores,” Kaku said. “It’s important in terms of what we want and that’s to go as far as we possibly can.”
Trailing the Montreal Impact by nine points for the final playoff spot in the East, Toronto FC (8-15-6) pushed for the equalizer, but Luis Robles came up with a pair of huge saves. He first dived to deny Tosaint Ricketts, who came on for an injured Jozy Altidore early in the second half, in the 79th minute and then parried away a Victor Vazquez full volley for another corner three minutes later.
The only negative to come from the match for the Red Bulls, who improved to 12-2-1 at home on the season, was an 86th minute caution to Wright-Phillips, which means he’ll be suspended on yellow card accumulation against Atlanta.
“I’m gutted about it,” Wright-Phillips said. “There’s so much I want to say, but I know what these guys are like. If I tell the truth, they’ll just suspend me for another week. But it’s unacceptable. What I said wasn’t that bad. It was just a swear word in it and [Nick Hagglund] got my arm. Then you get booked and I miss the biggest game of the season next week. It’s ridiculous.”
Etienne put the finishing touches on the victory in second-half stoppage time, freed on goal on a ball over the top by Wright-Phillips as Eriq Zavaleta tripped. He chipped inside the far post for his fourth goal of the season.
“To be honest, I was thinking I knew my teammates probably want me to take this to the corner, but inside the 18, I went with my instincts,” Etienne said. “I felt that he was going to go down if I open my hips because of how small the angle was and I was able to just get a little dink in.”