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Red Bulls down Dynamo in stunning upset


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The New York Red Bulls pulled off one of the most stunning upsets in MLS playoff history on Sunday, knocking off the two-time defending champion Houston Dynamo, 3-0, in the decisive second-leg of their Western Conference playoff series.

Dane Richards scored the opening goal of the match, drew a penalty to set up the second goal, then finished Houston off with a 65-yard run before setting up John Wolyniec for the third goal as the Red Bulls booked a spot in the Western Conference final against Real Salt Lake.

While Richards was terrorrizing the Houston defense, Red Bulls goalkeeper Danny Cepero was enjoying the best game of his young career. Cepero made six clutch saves, most of the highlight-reel variety, as he and a organized and gutsy Red Bulls defense kept the Dynamo off the scoreboard in a decisive home game.

The victory means the Red Bulls will face Real Salt Lake on Saturday for a place in the 2008 MLS Cup final.

"We were physical, scored on chances that we created, we defended with our lives, we were a team,  a unit," said Red Bulls striker Juan Pablo Angel, who converted a penalty kick for the Red Bulls second goal.

"If you play like that you always have a chance to beat anyone."

The Red Bulls looked like they might get overwhelmed early on as Houston applied good attacking pressure and Cepero struggled with some early jitters, but Cepero eventually found his feet and began making some key saves, including an early stop on a close-range shot from DeRosario.

"There were some times when I kind of laughed to myself when Danny made some of those saves because those are the ones that keep us in the games, especially big games," Red Bulls defender Andrew Boyens said of Cepero. "(Cepero) was quality tonight. Hopefully he can keep on doing that for us."

While Cepero kept Houston off the board, Richards was busy abusing Dynamo captain Wade Barrett on the flank. He ran onto a long pass from Sinisa Ubiparipovic, raced past Barrett and slammed home a 12-yard blast to make the score 1-0.

Richards torched Barrett again just 11 minutes later, getting in behind Barrett before sending a cross off the hand of Dynamo midfielder Ricardo Clark. Angel converted the penalty kick to make the score 2-0.

Houston adjusted in the second half by replacing Barrett with the speedy Corey Ashe, but Ashe was also toasted, as Richards capped a mazy 65-yard run with a perfect pass to John Wolyniec, who tapped home from close range for his first career playoff goal and first goal of the 2008 season.

“Every game I try to perform as best as I can but today was exceptional I guess,” Richards said. “And it’s a historic game so I’m happy I could do it today, and hopefully I can do it next week also.”

The victory was a satisfying one for Osorio, who watched his lineup decisions pay off in the playoffs after shaking up his squad following an embarrrassing 5-2 regular-season ending loss to Chicago. After that loss he inserted Luke Sassano and Sinisa Ubiparipovic into the starting lineup along with John Wolyniec and that trio helped form the physical, tireless and determined squad that knocked off the Dynamo.

"I was one hundred percent sure that this team would give me its best," Osorio said of the starting lineup he used to beat Houston. "I felt we could play a certain way that would make it difficult for opponents to play against us and you saw that with Houston."

Now the Red Bulls turn their attentions to Real Salt Lake, knowing that one more win will put them into the MLS Cup final. Given the way the team has looked in the post-season, and with the confidence they are sure to draw from upsetting Houston, the Red Bulls have suddenly gone from a team that barely made the playoffs to a team that looks capable of reaching the final.

"I hear a lot of people say that we didn’t deserve to be in the playoffs and I think that’s nonsense," Angel said. "We’re here and now people are starting to talk about us.

"It’s not over," Angel said. "We know that we’re on the doorstep of the big party of the year. We would like to get it right, but we have a very difficult challenge ahead.


  1. I have to admit, at the end of the regular season I was calling for Juan Carlos Osorio to be fired. I felt his constant tinkering with the lineups made for an inconsistent team and that he sometimes just put the wrong starting XI on the pitch, especially the season finale against Chicago.

    However, I must give credit where credit is due. Osorio swallowed his pride for these two playoff games and benched three of his big mid-season signings (Rojas, Cichero, and Pietravallo), and fielded a team that has showed nothing but heart, determination, and guts. He has chosen chemistry over skill (i.e.- Wolyniec vs Kandji) and it has paid off. I’m not saying that Osorio should be forgiven for his poor/mediocre coaching during the 30 regular season games just because RBNY won a playoff series, but based on the players’ reactions towards the end of the game, Houston was humiliated because they had been outplayed and outcoached.

    RBNY still has a tough road to the cup, winning on the road vs RSL and then having to beat Columbus/Chicago are no easy tasks. But this win vs Houston has given the fans something to be proud about, and I will be riding this high all week.

    Let’s go Metro!

  2. 2 things killed Houston on sunday (simply watching the highlights)

    1) speed- dane was a beast and thrashed that old exp. back line….

    2) Cepero- just on the highlights, Cepero had 4-5 goal preventing saves….. he was a beast

    things seem to be rolling for RSL… its going to be an interesting game… i wouldnt even know where to begin with who is the favorite…. i guess it depends on who shows up that night…can the redbulls pull a 2nd away win?? RSL always seem to have a collective cool when playing at home (even their new home), however i didnt Redbulls beat RSL on their home opener?? oh well, looking forward to a good game

  3. On October 30, Ives asks: “What lineup would you like to see the Red Bulls use”?

    A.S. responded: “Here’s my lineup:

    Not Magee.

    Not Rojas.

    Not Pietravello.

    Not Cichero.”

    JCO follows A.S.’s advice, and Red Bulls win a historic series. Coincidence? I think not.

  4. nothing about that bs penalty call on Clark, Ives? From what I saw the hit his head and then bounced down against his arm. that is not a pk.

  5. Let’s go Red Bulls…too bad there is no home and away game to cheer for the Bulls. Would be great to finally see NY win the MLS cup.

  6. RSL will sell out.

    BYU and the University of Utah’s football teams both play on the road Saturday, and the Utah Jazz are on an East-coast trip.

  7. I didn’t see much of the game (I was at Giants Stadium watching the Jets demolish the Rams), but I talked to a lot of friends about it and watched the highlights online. Every fan, from the Metro to the Red Bull days, should be proud of this team. It was an up and down regular season, but they did enough and now can bask in some playoff glory.

    But the work is not done yet. This is a league of parity and the Red Bulls have just as much of a chance to win the Cup as everyone else. Also, the winners of the semi-final games are guaranteed a spot in next year’s Champions League. I would love to see the Red Bulls get into that tournament (and hopefully MLS will fix some of the scheduling for next year). What a memorable year! Can’t wait til Saturday!

  8. Congratulations RED BULL!!!

    JCO is the real thing. That first game in NY I thought would have incentivized the three new guys to fight for a spot for the return game and I expected them as starters in this game. Apparently JCO saw something better and kept them on the bench.

    Now I wonder if they are going to be around next year. Could all three of them be that bad or have they not been able to integrate into the team? What do you say Ives?

  9. Props to the Red Bulls. I was at the game and you guys took your chances very well. I lost count of how many times the ball skimmed diagonally across the face of Cepero’s goal, only to wind up out of bounds. The Dynamo couldn’t score in a whorehouse with hundred-dollar bills stuck in their jock straps today.

    But Dynamo fans like me can’t be too down. Two championships in three years is hard to complain about. Now all we need is a stadium.

    Also of note, the local sports radio in Houston was treating the Dynamo as the same level as Tcxans and Rockets (who also lost yesterday). Soccer has arrived in Houston. One playoff loss will not erase all the good that’s happened during the last three years.

  10. Issac: Bulls need to win 3 in a row to win MLS Cup…1 down and 2 to go… In August when they were hot they did just that…. If they play like they have the last two games…with gusto and bravura and with luck…I am sure they will win.



  12. U Got that right Beckster. DC United was hammered with injuries all year and seldom fielded the same team due to their crazy schedule. I am sure that the MLS powers have been hearing it from the DC, Houston and NE management about the schedule.

    However, we did end up with a piece of silver this year. More than Houston and NE can say. Good luck with RSL and u will see again why DC should never have let Nicky Rimondo go. (Along with Bobby Boswell but if you have a personality in DC don’t expect Kevin Payne to keep u around).

    Would love to see a Chicago vs. NY showdown in MLS Cup (and so would Dandy Don Garber).

  13. Congratulations to the Red Bulls. That being said, I think MLS really has to assess the schedule for the top teams. Look what happened to DC, NE and Houston after the gruelling season of multiple tournaments in addition to MLS. These squads are not deep like European squads and able to handle multiple competitions at the same time. Let’s assess what can be done so that the best teams aren’t decimated the following year.

  14. Juan Carlos. I am glad that you turned things around in New York. All those soccer experts believing that the job was too big for you should shut up. From the first day that you were appointed I knew you could do it. I have seen how hard you have worked. REWd Bulls won last night becausew Juan Carlos had a game plan. Luck had nothing to do with it.

    Arnie ramirez

  15. i like how enthusiastic Juan Pablo Angel gets with his celebrations.

    im not a RBNY fan personally, but i think that increasingly I have become a Juan Pablo Angel fan, just because he is hands down the best goalscorer in the league, and because he really, really, loves to win. his celebrations show it, its like he cant hold back his happiness.

    that being said, ill be rooting for them to make it all the way, but if that means going up against my Columbus Crew, then no moar will i root for Angel.

  16. Martha, I personally agree on Woly. He was the victim of a trade no one wanted to include him in a few years ago.

    Woly is a tireless worker and the DEFINITION of a finisher. That is how he roles. He’s not super fast, and he can’t dribble around more than a defender or two.

    But that skinny mofo can hold the ball up better than Brian Ching, pass the ball 100 times better than Brian Ching, and finish like Angel. Well said.

  17. Its 2am was working and I’ll be celebrating the whole effing week!!!!!!

    I have Sats off, hopefully the game will be archived cuz I’ll prolly have alchohol poisoning by kick off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Houston really had their lack of team speed exposed today. I swear everytime Richards had the ball, it looked like the Dynamo were jogging. Once they got up 2-0, you could tell by the Dynamo players body language that they were done. I’m glad for all the long suffering Metro/RedBull fans….you guys certainly needed something like this. I have a feeling that RSL won’t be as generous as Houston were today. Can’t wait for this weekend!!!

  19. And more good news…we’re done with gridiron lines for the year!!! Columbus, RSL and HDC will all look like real foooooootball fields!

    Ives: I trust you will have a four-way poll soon for us to predict what the matchup will be for the final. I assume MLS HQ is hoping Chicago-NY (big cities+Blanco will do better drawing fans to HDC). I will vote for RSL…and I’m not sure who I expect/prefer in the (real) East.

    Congratulations to RBNY.


    PS: Ives: how about a comment on the crowd…

  20. Those fans did deserve a better result, I’m just glad they didn’t get it since we Red Bull fans have waited quite a while for a playoff series win.

    I’d love to compare the average salary of the players used in the game today, omitting highest and lowest the DPs don’t skew the numbers. With Woly, Ubi, Sassano, Leitch, Jimenez, Boyens, Goldy and Cepero, those guys probalby only count about $300K combined against the cap. Pretty amazing…

  21. Shock the world!! Best week ever!!!! Dane, I take back every doubt I had about you coming into this series, you looked like a man amongst boys on that last run, unbelievable!!! JCO, I had faith in you in pre-season and defended you till that end of season loss vs Houston, after which I was at a loss for words… strangely, I’m even more speechless now, 3-0 away to the best team/defending champs of the last 2 seasons?! Viva Metro, I’m looking up Salt Lake City flights!!!!

  22. I am still smiling since 5.01pm, thanks JCO, JPA, Dane, Woly, Cepero and Jimenez not to play as kpugs and I mentioned! and ofcourse to Ives, as always. Miami Update, also article front pg. sports, below fold but w/ pic of Messi saying we would get barca players! Almost fainted but ofcourse she writes on 2nd pg., NOT YET on Messi and Eto*o, but maybe Henry. Dont forget Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, and Figo, whom Id pay to see even if hes 103!

  23. Housten Dynamo? The Most overrated team in MLS history?????!?! Umm excuse me but they did win back to back MLS cups not to mention they had won 2 more earlier when they were the Earthquakes and were always battling for top of the Western Conference, finalist for Superliga 08 and are the only MLS team putting up a fight in Champions league. Thats what is expected of a top class MLS club and Housten has done that. If Housten is overrated, then who deserves the title of top MLS club these past few years?

    and no, im not a Dynamo fan. Just a person who uses his logic.

  24. Brokenbil, Houston is the two time defending MLS champions and they drew 30k to the game. They are a quality club no reason for the hate. Next year hopefully the schedule congestion will be alleviated and no clubs will have so much responsibility representing the MLS in all 3 of those tournaments.

    I am thinking no one would have guessed this would have been the final four standing in the MLS this season. A few might have guessed the FIRE but the other 3 probably weren’t predicted by most.

  25. I’m still recovering from the excitement of that match. Wow! The Red Bulls fought like warriors out there and their win was so impressive. It was like seeing an entirely new team on the field. And all this time, these young guys were already with the team — playing consistently as a unit with the reserves or off the bench. Just waiting for their chance to show what they can do. Just amazing.

  26. p.s. I hate to repeat myself, but I must…I told ya so on Woly, this line up, and Double I told ya so on JCO…and when you people were all like *off with his head*, lol!

  27. Good riddance to the Houston Dynamo, the most overrated team in the history of MLS. They are 0-for-4 in competition this year (PPC, USOC, Superliga, & MLS Cup) and will soon be eliminated from the CCL. Congratulations to the Red Bulls, one of the most underperforming teams in MLS history. No offense to RSL, but as a former Metrostars fan, I’d love to see the team from NY finally make it to the Cup final.

  28. Anyone else interested in Osorio v Fire Final? That has a good story line in which the Fire would destroy the metros in LA and add another trophy to the case.

  29. Watch Party at NEvada’s again. Cant do Mulligans because it cuts into their big saturday night crowd in hoboken…besides everyone had a blast tonight that went to Nevada’s in the city and we won…its good luck and we cant mess with that!!

  30. Angel and his true leadership on and off the field has me cheering for NYRB, but Jason Kreis’ leadership at RSL has me cheering for them too (that and the fact that they downed Chivas). RSL vs NRYB will make for a great Western Conference Final.

    If there are any viewing parties in the San Francisco area next weekend for the game, let me know. I’ll be up there for the USC vs Stanford game.

  31. I’m definitely cheering for the Bulls. My prediction?

    NYRB-CC MLS Cup Final.

    After that it’s kind of up for grabs. I just hope that this isn’t like the Red Bulls of the regular season, where they smoke someone and then they get smoked the next game. can someone tell me the longest winning streak that the Red Bulls had this season?

  32. Wow, that was a great game. I am shocked, but glad the JCO proved me wrong. Let’s hope the team continues to fight like they did tonight…

  33. I think it’s a sign of how much disappointment this team has given us over 13 years that I’m viewing anything after today as gravy.

    Great series, great game. I gave them a shot to win but didn’t think it would happen. A big ef you to the people who guaranteed they’d get knocked out by Houston. Have some humble pie. 4-1.

  34. I am so proud of JCO and the lads! With amore mio Del Piero and Juventus upset at Real Madrid, Redbulls upset at Houston, and great article front page Mia. Herald today, below the fold but still!, by the dynamic Michelle Kaufmann, profiling Mr. Marcelo Claure, and of course quoting the delightful Ray Hudson, on the MLS Miami/Barca bid…I am one estatic futebol fan! Oh and I got a new job offer friday, in this chaotic climate too!

  35. what an amazing team effort! outstanding play by richards and cepero, determined and spectacular. the defense garnered new respect with their focus and guts under a relentless attack. (an extra shout out to jimenez who played hurt, but undaunted.) the new midfield disrupted and possessed, and to top it off, both strikers scored! it was a great match. i owe woly some kind words: thank you for your hard work and that goal.

  36. Please tell me there’s gonna be a massive viewing party for this. I don’t care if it’s in NYC or Jersey but I’m there….

  37. GO BULLS!!!

    If we keep on playing this way, we’ll be a very hard team to beat. Great to finally find the right combination of players that click!

  38. Amazing victory, and not the first time this season that Houston has struggled with NY. The fact is that the Houston backline has gotten a bit older and slower and they’ve had difficulty dealing with Richards pace.

    RSL has also struggle a bit with NY this season, so next Sunday’s game will be very interesting.

    Its fantastic that Rio Tinto gets to host the Western conference championship.

    Hopefully Osorio sticks with the same first 11, because these guys are playing really well together and fighting for each other. No reason to tinker with what works, right? Hopefully

  39. Wow!

    Hopefully they can sell-out Rio Tinto Stadium for this game. They have a full week of advanced noticed and the game is on a weekend. Arguably, the most important game in Red Bulls/Metrostars history and definitely the most important in RSL history.


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