Toronto FC expects chaos to be the order of the day at Red Bull Arena on Saturday

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The last time the Reds faced the Red Bulls, they got gored.

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The match was March 5, Toronto FC’s home opener at BMO Field, and the visiting New York Red Bulls spanked the Reds 4-1 on the strength of three goals by Scottish winger Lewis Morgan. TFC dominated possession in the game but New York had the most chances to score. The Reds now head into Red Bull Arena on Saturday night for the season rematch looking for revenge while knowing that the struggling Red Bulls (6-4-5, 23 pts) never make things easy for the opposition.

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“It’s going to be a chaotic game, that’s their style,” said TFC midfielder Kosi Thompson. “We need to expect everything and be ready to adapt to everything. Coming into the game, everyone has to be locked in 100%. And from there, just play our football the way we know how to play it and hopefully we get the result.

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“Whenever you play a Red Bull team you have to understand that there’s going to be parts of the game that become a little bit like chaos. That’s what they want,” added TFC coach Bob Bradley. “They play balls long, they fight for second balls and then they play off of those moments. That was very much the case in the first game against them.

“When you play Red Bull teams, you have to (understand) that there will be moments where you play on their terms and then other moments where, if you can get control of the game and make the right passes and play quickly, then we can put them on our terms. That’s true every time you play a Red Bull team.”

On paper, the Reds (4-7-3, 15 pts) are up against it. The Red Bulls are unbeaten in six straight matches against TFC (W4 D2) and Toronto is winless in 15 straight away matches (D5 L10) dating back to a 2-1 win in Chicago last July, the longest road winless streak in team history. The Reds have managed just three points in their seven away matches this season, including a 2-2 draw at D.C. in their last road match.

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However, TFC has played better recently, collecting four points in its last two league matches. And just prior to the recent international break, the Reds defeated CPL side Forge FC in Hamilton to win the 2020 Canadian Championship (which was postponed for two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic), giving the club a psychological boost.

The Red Bulls have not been playing their best soccer of late, having won only one of their last six games (D3 L2) following a 2-0 loss at Charlotte last Saturday.

“Obviously we got a great result away from home against (TFC) earlier on in the season, but we would be naive to think that they’ve not improved since then,” said Morgan of TFC. “We’ve obviously improved as well and it’s going to be completely different game to that one. So we need to go into this with the right mindset. They’ve changed their team, they’ve got a few different players that didn’t play in the (March 5) game, and we have to be ready for everything. It’s a game everybody’s excited for.”

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The Reds are getting some recently injured players back in the next few days, including centre back Shane O’Neill, midfielder Jonathan Osorio, defender Chris Mavinga and full back Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty. Bradley is going to need all hands on deck as TFC moves into a stretch that features five games in the next 15 days.

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RED BULLS STAR KLIMALA OUT

The Reds caught a bit of a break this week when the MLS Disciplinary Committee suspended Red Bulls forward Patryk Klimala for one match as a result of a serious foul play during New York’s game against Charlotte FC on June 11. Klimala, who has four goals and three assists in 14 appearances this year, will serve his suspension on Saturday.

JJ LOOKING TO RE-DISCOVER SCORING TOUCH

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TFC striker Jesus Jimenez, who scored TFC’s lone goal in that 4-1 loss against Red Bulls on March 5, will be looking to get back on the scoring track. Jimenez is TFC’s leading scorer with seven goals in 14 matches (good for fourth in MLS), but his production has slowed as a finisher since the beginning of May, being held without a goal in his last five matches. The native of Leganés, Spain, however, has contributed offensively without scoring, recording an assist in each of the last two league matches.

“Of course, I want to make a score every game,” said Jimenez this week. “But this is football. Sometimes you score and (sometimes) you get unlucky and you miss. I hope in the (Red Bull) game I get another goal.”

REDS STILL SEARCHING FOR CLEAN SHEET

Heading into Red Bull Arena on Saturday to face a tough side that pounces on mistakes and missed-chances, the Reds will be hard-pressed to record a clean sheet. Play in the defensive end has been the biggest problem for TFC all season. The Reds rank last in the Eastern Conference with 27 goals conceded and the team has gone a club-record 22 straight games without a clean sheet dating back to last September, including all 14 matches this season. The Reds have kept one clean sheet in their last 44 MLS matches.

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