By DAVE MARTINEZ
On a night where Tim Cahill scored his first goal as a Red Bull and the team rallied from a 2-0 deficit for a 3-2 victory, it was Bill Gaudette who stole the show.
And that says a lot.
“I think the real hero tonight was probably Billy,” Cahill said after the match. “He played exceptional today – and every game I’ve been to since I’ve been here, he’s a massive part of our result.”
Coming off of an impressive eight-save performance against Spain with the Puerto Rican National Team, Gaudette shined in net for the Red Bulls as he held up the fort to preserve an impressive come-from-behind win at home.
His latest victory follows a string of strong performances that have caught the attention of Hans Backe and the Red Bulls coaching staff. After being picked up from Los Angeles and filling in for the injured rookie phenom, Ryan Meara, Gaudette has made an indelible impression on the team which will push New York to make some difficult decisions once Meara is ready for action.
“Bill was fantastic,” Jan Gunnar Solli noted. “He had five, six class definitely world-class saves. I gave him all my best after the game, he had a phenomenal game.
“Now we have a big competition for the first goalie again and that’s just good for our team.”
While Meara continues his road to recovery, Gaudette continues to make the most of his opportunities.
“We don’t know really with Ryan if and when he will be back,”Backe revealed. “I think it will be some discussion this week with thedoctors to see how bad it is or if he can still keep on training. ButBilly has been, his games he’s been playing I don’t thinkhe’s done one mistake so far. He came up big with three, four very, veryimportant saves when (Portland) had free runners. He’s beengreat.”
After a strong first 45 minutes, the Timbers continued to challenge Gaudette in the second half, including a point blank shot by Darlington Nagbe that was turned aside by the keeper. His heroics kept New York in the game, allowed them to go ahead and eventually helped secured a vital three points in what has become a tight race for first in the Eastern Conference.
“They were just saves,” Gaudette said post game. “That’s what your job is – to keep the team in the game. So it wasn’t our best performance. I keep reiterating that any time you come out and play like that and you weren’t really top notch and you get three points, it’s a pretty good night.”
Not one to accept personal accolades, the Puerto Rican backstop instead focused on the efforts of his backline in a match where luck played as large a part as skill in achieving the outcome.
“The boys did a great job getting back," said Gaudette. "They got back and saved me. It’s one of those things where right spot, right time. We are just happy to get three points.
“The only positive was we got three points. Other than that I don’t think there was much positive. We’re definitely not happy with the performance. But like I said, you get three points at home and that’s what you have to do."