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Dormant offenses collide as Red Bulls visit Toronto FC

Jun 18, 2022; Harrison, New Jersey, USA; Toronto FC midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo (10) controls the ball against New York Red Bulls defender Sean Nealis (15) during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Two sides stuck at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with identical records look to turn things around when the New York Red Bulls visit Toronto FC on Wednesday night.

The Red Bulls (2-4-6, 12 points) have won their first two matches under new head coach Troy Lesesne. Both were 1-0 victories — against D.C. United in U.S. Open Cup action on May 9 and their Hudson River rivals New York City FC in MLS play on Saturday.

Midfielder Omir Fernandez scored the lone goal against New York City, his second tally of the season, which leads the club.

“I think he is undervalued in a lot of ways, almost like an underdog,” Lesesne said. “But I don’t undervalue him, I think he can do big things. He’s got a lot of potential and I hope to see more of those moments.”

Offense has been hard to come by for New York, which has scored eight goals through 12 games, tied for fewest in the league. They’ve been strong at the other end of the pitch, however, conceding only 11 goals.

The Red Bulls will be without several players for the contest; Sean Nealis, Cristian Casseres Jr. and Andres Reyes will miss the match due to yellow card accumulation.

Toronto (2-4-6, 12 points), meanwhile, will try to get back on track after two straight losses in MLS and three straight overall.

The Reds are coming off consecutive setbacks to CF Montreal — 2-0 on Saturday in league play and 2-1 on May 9 in Canadian Championship action. Those defeats were preceded by a 2-0 loss to the New England Revolution on May 6.

They’ve managed just one goal in their past three MLS matches. Saturday against Montreal they struggled to generate offense, with just two shot attempts, neither on target.

“We are going through a tough stretch and the work every day is to keep everybody going with a belief that there are things that we’re doing that are still positive,” coach Bob Bradley said. “We haven’t had much to show for it yet. If we can fight through this stretch, get some more guys healthy, keep improving, there’s a positive light at the end of all this.”

Federico Bernardeschi leads Toronto with three goals but hasn’t scored since April 1, his lone goal in his past 10 MLS matches.

–Field Level Media