Whoever said regular season MLS games are boring might have have been convinced otherwise on Thursday night after watching the New York Red Bulls and FC Dallas battle through a dramatic, fiesty and entertaining 2-2 draw at Pizza Hut Park on Thursday night.
FCD extended its unbeaten streak to 15 matches, but paid a big price, with goalkeeper Kevin Hartman and veteran midfielder Daniel Hernandez suffering knee injuries that forced them to leave the match before the second half.
Dallas rookie Eric Alexander stole the show, setting up a Milton Rodriguez goal before scoring his own brilliant run and finish to give FCD a 2-1 lead despite being a man down due to a Brek Shea red card. The Red Bulls pressed for an equalizer and found one when Jair Benitez re-directed a Joel Lindpere cross into his own net to tie the score at 2-2.
The match was a fiesty affair which included Shea's red card for an ugly tackle on Chris Albright and Hartman's injury, which came during the most controversial moment of the evening. After Mehdi Ballouchy scored in his Red Bulls debut, Henry ran over to kick the ball, but Hartman lifted his foot next to the ball just as Henry kicked, which sent the ball into his foot, generating enough force to sprain his right MCL. Hartman was forced to leave the match at halftime with an injury that could force him to miss several weeks.
Ballouchy earned the start in place of Juan Pablo Angel, who started the match on the bench. The former Rapids playmaker raced onto a Lindpere cross to bury New York's first goal just before halftime, canceling out an early finish from Milton Rodriguez.
FC Dallas outplayed New York early in the second half despite being a man down, with its midfielders outworking the Red Bulls' midfield despite playing without the dangerous Shea. Alexander gave Dallas a 2-1 lead after an incisive run into the penalty area led to a quality finish past Bouna Coundoul.
The Red Bulls started to show more purpose in their attack later in the second half and ultimately found an equalizer when Lindpere sent a cross in toward Angel that Benitez headed into his own net.
The draw was an impressive result for a Dallas side that played 61 minutes down a man. FCD lost Hernandez to an injury and Shea to a red card just two minutes apart, giving the Red Bulls a chance to take control of the match, but save for a few flashes, New York never could put Dallas away despite having the better of the play in the first half.
The tie leaves New York three points behind the Columbus Crew in the East standings, while also pulling FC Dallas within two points of Real Salt Lake for second place in the West.
Here are the match highlights:
What did you think of the match? Impressed with FC Dallas? Think Henry should have been sent off for injuring Hartman, or did you think it was a fluke play? Liking the Ballouchy acquisition?
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