Tim Cahill came back from the World Cup with a bang.
The ardent midfielder returned to help New York Red Bulls secure a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Eastern Conference foe Toronto FC.
New York took the lead through Péguy Luyindula, but second half goals from Jermain Defoe and Gilberto Oliveira Souza Júnior gave Toronto the lead until the dying minutes when Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his league-leading 12th goal of the season.
In the early proceedings, Wright-Phillips had a shot that was saved by Joe Bendik, and a minute later, Luis Robles came up big for New York. After the early save, the American goalkeeper was in total control.
Toronto FC was the better side in the first 20 minutes and their pressure almost paid dividends. Following a well-organized counter-attack, the ball was crossed to a wide-open Dominic Oduro, but Robles easily collected his laser shot.
Three minutes later Lloyd Sam initiated a New York fast break. He was allowed to stroll down the right flank and he took advantage by cutting inside and firing a shot, but it was block for a corner kick.
The ensuing corner kick made great contact with Wright-Phillips’ head, but he couldn’t keep his header down.
In the 23rd minute, Henry’s perfectly placed free kick was met by a diving Luyindula, but the ball looped over the crossbar.
With less than 10 minutes left in the first period, New York broke the deadlock. Henry checked out of the box to collect the ball and no one pressured the French legend. The captain picked out the Ambroise Oyongo and the young fullback faked a cross to lose his defender and put the ball on a platter for Luyindula, who beat Doneil Henry in the air.
Seven minutes into the second half, Oduro had a golden opportunity to tie the game. The ball fell nicely to the charismatic forward but his volley went disappointingly wide.
Three minutes later, Oduro was the provider for Toronto’s equalizer. His low cross was redirected into the back of the net at the near post by Defoe. That was the forward’s fifth goal in as many games.
Toronto kept pressuring New York and came extremely close to taking the lead. Jackson played the ball to the far post and a stretching Oduro redirected the ball towards goal, but Robles made a good reflex save.
In the 71st minute Gilberto and Defoe exchanged words over who was going to take a dangerous free kick. Gilberto won the argument and he didn’t waste the opportunity to score his first goal of the season. Robles had no chance as the Brazilian fired a blazing shot into the back of the net.
Red Bulls Arena finally had something to cheer for when Cahill checked in after a successful individual showing at the World Cup.
And a few minutes after his introduction, he almost scored. Cahill met a Sam cross, but his weak header from six yards out flew safely into Bendik’s hands.
Cahill used his aerial prowess to orchestrate New York’s late equalizer. The Australian legend headed a long ball into the path of Wright-Phillips, who finished with a plum at the near post.
For more rumors, news and opinion, check out our Soccer page.