BY BRIAN ABERNETHY
New York Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe could have made some changes to his lineup on Wednesday night
Backe trotted out the same starting 11 that beat the LA Galaxy, 1-0, last Saturday and the group posted a third straight 1-0 victory, beating the Dynamo at Red Bull Arena.
A seventh-minute goal from Kenny Cooper came following an errant backpass from Corey Ashe gave New York all it needed to record its third straight shutout victory, taking them to 6-3-1 on the season.
Rookie goalkeeper Ryan Meara again looked strong in posting his third straight His late game reaction save summed up his performance, looking comfortable dealing with both shots and service.
Cooper’s goal continued the Red Bulls’ habit of getting on the board early, having grabbed seven goals in the first 15 minutes of matches this season. Following a Connor Lade throw in, Cooper turned into traffic and momentarily lost the ball, but continued chasing the play and was able to block Tally Hall’s clearance into the net for his seventh of the season.
A largely toothless Houston attack responded through MLS veteran Brad Davis, who created the bulk of his team’s chances on the night. An early long range strike kept Meara honest, while his service kept the Red Bulls back line under pressure for most of the first half.
Dax McCarty again showed well in his holding midfield role, earning praise from Hans Backe.
The second half saw Juan Agudelo enter for Medhi Ballouchy, much to the pleasure of Red Bulls and U.S. National Team fans. Agudelo showed some rust as he continues return from a torn meniscus, but showed the attacking flair and nose for goal that has become a staple of his game. A late-game full volley attempt was saved well by Hall, spoiling a dream return to Red Bull Arena for Agudelo.
Davis nearly equalized for the Dynamo twice within the last fifteen minutes, and perhaps should have done so given the quality of his chances. Davis first overhit a Corey Ashe cutback from 20 yards out on his favored left foot. He then found space between Red Bulls defenders, but could not convert from six yards out, pushing his header wide left.
For the Dynamo (2-3-1), Saturday’s grand opening of BBVA Compass Stadium against DC United could see this loss quickly forgotten. The Red Bulls now sit in second place in the Eastern Conference ahead of a Sunday clash with rivals Philadelphia Union at PPL Park.