John Tolkin relishes game-winner over DC United as Red Bulls begin prepping for Messi, Inter Miami

John Tolkin Red Bulls
John Tolkin (Photo courtesy of the New York Red Bulls)

John Tolkin’s free kick in the 88th minute of Sunday night’s match turned a scoreless draw into an emphatic win for the New York Red Bulls — the 1-0 triumph over D.C. United giving the Red Bulls a vital three points in their hunt for an MLS Eastern Conference playoff spot. 

The 21-year-old lined up a free kick from 20 yards out and bounced it into the net to blow the roof off Red Bulls Arena. It was the first goal of the season for the speedy left-back who hails from Chatham, NJ.

“I saw the wall was a little bit inside and the keeper was a little bit too far to my right.” Tolkin said after the game. “I thought I could sneak it in there. The grass was slick so I was able to get that little bounce and found the back of the net.” 

John Tolkin Red Bulls
John Tolkin celebrates his game-winning goal on Sunday night against DC United. (Photo courtesy of the New York Red Bulls)

The New York defense also did not allow their opponents to record a single shot on target, keeping former Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, and Liverpool striker Christian Benteke tightly marked for 96 minutes. While the defense remains the bedrock of the Red Bulls’ strategy, Tolkin’s goal couldn’t have come at a better time for the home team, as DC had little time to equalize.

A different caliber of challenge awaits Tolkin and his back-line mates next week when they face Lionel Messi as Inter Miami comes to town on Aug. 26.

“It’s going to be a tough challenge this weekend.” Tolkin said, “But I think you saw [in the Leagues Cup Final penalty shootout win over Nashville] with the national game, they’re beatable.

“Since a little kid, it’ll be pretty crazy looking across the field and seeing Messi. I don’t care how hard it is, that’s just a dream come true.” 

For more on John Tolkin and the Red Bulls, visit AMNY.com