BY DAVE MARTINEZ
The New York Red Bulls are quickly building a reputation as one of the most schizophrenic sides in Major League Soccer. The team squandered two early leads at home, getting victimized by a pair of brilliant San Jose goals en route to a deflating 2-2 draw.
“I called it,” Thierry Henry said after the match. “If you let a team like San Jose have any opportunities, they are going to punish you, especially Wondolowski.
"Everybody was raving about our game (against Columbus) and I told you I was not so happy about it. If they had Wondolowski on the other side they would have drew the game – even won it. And, well you know, back to reality.”
“Attacking wise, first half is good,” Red Bulls Coach Hans Backe observed, “but it’s very easy to see our defense must improve. Second half, nothing happens from either team. It looked quite lost. Not one of our better performances, that’s for sure.”
The Red Bulls opened the score sheet five minutes into the match. Thierry Henry found a tight lane through the San Jose defense which Cooper read perfectly, beating the offside trap and Jon Busch for the opening notch. Minutes later, a Dax McCarty giveaway put the ball at Chris Wondolowski’s foot. A lob over Markus Holgersson dissected the Red Bulls defense, sending Khari Stephenson behind the big Swede. A quick glance at the far post found Rafael Baca who put in his opportunity for the tie.
“Wondolowski, Stephenson were dangerous all night and we didn’t do a good enough job of containing them,” defender Stephen Keel said. “We can’t be going through the season giving up two goals every game; it’s not going to work.”
New York once again regained the lead. This time, it was Cooper playing distributor, flicking a Richards feed to the top of the box, finding a wide open Dax McCarty who nailed his opportunity. Wondolowski rounded out the scoring with a clever header off of a Shea Salinas feed in the box to send the teams tied up at the half.
San Jose pressed New York throughout the second half of play, limiting the home teams attack and opportunities. The Red Bulls held, but not without a few testy moments.
“It’s too soft back there,” Keel observed. “We are not going to score four or five goals like we have been. We’re going to have to win one nil, two nil; that’s what the championship teams do and that’s what we want to be.”
“Today it was, you can say, ball watching,” Backe said. “You could say the last three games have been quite okay – decent – but it has to be improved. We just have to work with it.”
As the match went on, the play became more physical. An ugly challenge in the box off of a corner opportunity in the first half saw Rafa Marquez tackle Shea Salinas to the ground. As he rolled over the winger’s body, he caught him in the face with a boot. Salinas was taken out of the game, with early reports citing a broken left clavicle.
During the same play, standout San Jose defender Victor Bernardez picked up a knock on a collision with Ryan Meara, suffering a strained MCL. This ignited a chippy start to the second half. Roy Miller was tackled from behind by Marvin Chavez, forcing the Costa Rican back to be subbed out of the confrontation with left knee inflammation. The physical play continued to the final whistle.
In the end, New York failed to respond to the San Jose onslaught, and took home a disappointing draw for their efforts.