Four important points to make on the Red Bulls’ win over Toronto, 2-0, at Red Bull Arena:
- Rookie midfielder Michael Bustamante got his first MLS start (as New York manager continues to look for the right attacking combinations … almost 30 weeks into the season). And the kid looked pretty good in moments other than holding the ball too long in the earliest minutes. His entry pass into Dax McCarty led to New York’s first goal.
- Bustamante’s quality minutes and the Red Bull’s lead through most of the match (slim as it was) allowed New York manager Mike Petke to keep Tim Cahill on the bench. Cahill, just coming back off injury, was on the bench Saturday, but Petke had been clear that his Aussie international attacker was available only as a “In case of emergency, break glass” contingency. In other words, Petke wanted to rest Cahill one more week if at all possible.
- Don’t let the shutout fool you; New York never really had solid control of the match until Fabian Espindola’s 81st minute goal. Petke’s team remains an impossible outfit to peg, looking so good one week (A 4-1 win at Houston? Are you kidding me? Nobody wins by three in Houston!) but then looking curiously ordinary the next week. And they looked somewhere between ordinary and downright vulnerable Saturday at home against one of the league’s worst clubs.
- Espindola as the late goal scorer was interesting, for he is a figure who lost his way in the 2013 seasons weeks ago. But perhaps coming off the bench, as Espindola did Saturday, replacing starter Bradley Wright-Phillips, is a good use. His goal Saturday was certainly helpful, eliminating the chance of TFC nicking a late one to split the point. Because down the stretch, teams that cannot get all three points at home against Toronto, D.C. United, Chivas USA and maybe even a couple of others may not deserve to get out of the pack and into the playoffs. They certainly won’t deserve to win the East, and that’s New York’s aim at the moment.