The New York Red Bulls’ win over Toronto FC, 3-0, almost took a back seat to Frankie Amaya on Saturday night.
The midfielder’s future made a win, with three much-needed points, look almost secondary in the grand scheme of things.

Still, New York looked good, with two midfielders scoring second-half goals as the defense shut down Toronto almost completely.

Ryan Meara earned his third clean sheet of 2024 as well.

The result marked New York’s ninth straight unbeaten game at home.

This is only the second time in franchise history (2012) that the team has achieved this sort of feat.

When asked why Red Bull Arena has become such a fortress opposing teams have been unable to concur, head coach Sandro Schwarz was quick to praise how well his team has played.

“You have to ask the coaches from the opponents,” Schwarz joked.

“But for us, it’s very important that we play very clean; that we play with the highest intensity in our structure… It was very good today. We shot some sequences after these seven or eight minutes because we analyzed his game plan against us. They had some — especially at the beginning, diagonal balls against our fullbacks and this was part of the break, in this 35, 40 minutes, this break, to show spaces where we can play in our ball position.”

The New York starting eleven once again included Ryan Meara in goal, acting as netminder while Carlos Coronel plays in the Copa America with Paraguay. Noah Eile acted on the backline in place of Andrés Reyes, who never came off the bench as a sub.

Most interestingly, Frankie Amaya was in the defensive midfield. Rumors began during the last week about Amaya being sent to Liga MX side Club Deportivo Toluca. By gameday, those reports looked all but certain, and many in the stadium treated this as Amaya’s farewell.

After the match, head coach Sandro Schwarz confirmed Amaya was leaving the team, wishing him the best of luck.

The game started hot, with Dylan Nealis getting hit in the face by a Toronto FC player in the first minute. No card was given, and Nealis returned to the game after a few moments on the sideline.

When asked about this moment by NYCSN as the pool reporter, the officials responded with the following:

“This play was deemed not to be a foul. The VAR checked the play and determined that no clear and obvious error had been made.”

In what has become the norm at Red Bull Arena this season, the rain soon picked up. In the 10th minute, around 7:50 PM, the game was stopped due to lightning strikes in the area of the venue.

This is the second time this season a game has been delayed due to lightning.

The stoppage lasted between 90 minutes and two hours before the game resumed at 9:30 PM.

“When we went out, and it started raining, (coach Sandro Schwarz) said, ‘this is our weather,'” defender Noah Eile said after the game, noting this was the seventh game at Red Bull Arena this season with rain.

“I think it’s starting to become our weather. It’s crazy to have so much rain. But I think we try to overcome all the circumstances and deal with it in the best way possible.”

Just before the stoppage, and especially moving through the crowd of people on the stadium concourse, it was easy to see how well the crowd showed up on Saturday. Officially, attendance was marked at 20,008. In reality, it seemed closer to 18k. Still, for Red Bull Arena, that felt and looked good. The energy was there on a night when the only theme was a fireworks show to take place after the game.

The rest of the first half was pedestrian outside of one moment in the 30th minute. The Red Bulls grabbed the lead when Eile played a ball into forward Elias Manoel’s feet. He turned and smashed a shot from the top of the eighteen-yard box into the top right corner.

The Brazilian’s fourth goal of the season would end up being the game-winner.

“It was a very good movement from Elias [Manoel],” Eile said.

“I think he’s very good at coming into that space, and it was an easy pass to find. In training, we talked about that before, that we can have those movements from the striker and then we saw the quality he had. It was mainly down to him the goal there. What a finish, what a play from him.”

The game’s second intermission, also known as halftime, must have done something for New York. In the 47th minute, just over 90 seconds in, Wiki Carmona intercepted a Toronto pass and brought the ball down the left side.

Going one-on-one with Sigurd Rosted, Carmona sent a long pass toward the right side, where Dennis Gjengaar was on a run.

The first-year midfielder went to the ground, sliding into the ball to shoot past Luka Gavran to make it 2-0.

“It was just to get it in the box and try to get a touch,” Gjengaar said simply of his first MLS goal.

Carmona nearly added a goal to his tally in the 54th when an errant Toronto clearance by Gavran fell to him on the left side. His long shot was only saved when the TFC keeper punched it away for a corner.

Not long later, in the 64th, Daniel Edelman also got under a bad Toronto clearance in the midfield. He took aim from about 25 yards out, forcing Gavran to make a diving save to keep the deficit at only two goals.

Overall, New York was outpossessed in each half. However, the midfield, especially Carmona and Gjengaar, played a huge role in maximizing the home team’s time with the ball.

The team’s last goal came, once again, off an interception. Dylan Nealis chested down a long Toronto pass and sent it along to Cameron Harper. He ran down into the right side of the box and sidestepped a defender before shooting the ball low. It rolled through a defender’s legs and past an almost defeated-looking Gavron to make it 3-0. It is Harper’s fourth goal of the season, one where he has become a consistent figure on a team looking for secondary goal scorers.

In the 87th minute, Schwarz subbed in Cory Burke and Ronald Donkor for Dante Vanzeir and Frankie Amaya. As Amaya left the field, he took time to say goodbye to every player he could on the pitch before giving a quick sign of the cross to the sky. The crowd cheered loudly, akin to almost a curtain call, as Amaya looked to have played his last game for the New York Red Bulls.

After the final whistle, as New York saluted the South Ward, Amaya was lifted up and thrown in the air by his teammates.

It wasn’t all good vibes for the Red Bulls. Edelman was shown a yellow in the 68th minute for a careless challenge, meaning he will miss next week’s match.

Including him, the midfield will be missing Amaya, the plethora of season-long injured players, possibly Lewis Morgan depending on Scotland at the Euros, and maybe Emil Forsberg.

“It is now my job to find the solution for next week. We will see. I dunno how we handle this situation next week,” Schwarz said about his midfield situation.

New York will be back in Harrison next weekend when it welcomes D.C. United for the second leg of the Atlantic Cup.

Former RBNY head coach Troy Lesesne will be Christian Benteke and Matai Akinmboni after both saw red cards yesterday.

This will be Lesesne’s first match back at RBA since he and the team parted ways following last season’s playoff exit.


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