The Red Bulls were full aware that last week's performance against the Houston Dynamo was awful, and not good enough for a team with championship aspirations. After an intense week of training, the Red Bulls came out on Friday and showed that they are still very much one of the teams to beat in the Eastern Conference.
After out-playing the Dynamo in a scoreless first half, the Red Bulls finally broke through in the second half, with Tim Cahill playing provider. He skied up for a header that blasted off teammate Markus Holgersson and into the net to give the Red Bulls a 1-0 lead, then he helped set up an insurance goal when he dished to Thierry Henry, who dished to Jan Gunnar Solli for the final goal in a 2-0 victory at Red Bull Arena on Friday night.
The Red Bulls victory snapped a five-match winning streak for the Dynamo, and helped New York jump back into first place in the Eastern Conference.
The Dynamo had their chances to score, but the Red Bulls played some outstanding defense, with Connor Lade standing out by shutting down former Red Bull Macoumba Kandji.
The harsh words Henry had for his team after last week's loss to Houston, which including ripping players for being too nice to Kandji, clearly sent a message as the Red Bulls got involved in multiple tussles with Kandji, who was a shadow of the player who did so well against New York last week.
The return of Dax McCarty in central midfield was also vital to New York's success on Friday, with his work in the middle freeing up Tim Cahill and Joel Lindpere to attack more. Lindpere was particularly impressive in his return to the starting lineup.
Cahill failed to make an impact in the first half, but showed his quality on the opening goal when he jumped high in the air to head a Roy Miller cross at goal. The header hit Holgersson and went into the net for the opening goal of the night and Cahill's first MLS assist.
Houston pushed hard for an equalizer, and looked like a good bet to find one as the second half went on, but the Red Bulls kept playing tenacious defense and kept a dangerous Dynamo attack off the scoreboard.
The match marked the first appearance for Ricardo Clark since returning to MLS. Clark played the final 15 minutes in his first match since signing with the team he helped win two MLS Cups with before moving to Europe three years ago.
The match also saw the return of Rafa Marquez, who made his first appearance since July 15th in a brief five-minute cameo.
Here are the match highlights:
He has average skills, but his value to his team is above average. RBNY wins when he plays and loses when he doesn’t. That pretty valuable. He’s the Nellie Fox of MLS!
Ugh, not going to go that far, but he’s had a nice season. He’s composed on the ball and makes good decisions. His ball skills are only average, however, and he’s below average athletically. He’ll never challenge for an MLS MVP and his touch would be exposed on an international level, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a nice, important player for NYRB.
I really feel like Henry told the AR he blew that call after he scored. How awesome is it to tell the assistant that they messed up, even when you score.
I was there. He was definitely offsides.
Backe outcoached Kinnear on this one. Kinnear xeroxed last week, as he is prone to do, and Backe made some adjustments. Higher pressure, physical defense, forcing the Dynamo to play more half court and crossing than fast break 433 ball. So we kind of regressed. Kandji’s occasional forays forward were the few things reminiscent of recent weeks.
Kinnear’s subbing was mindless and pushbutton. Down one and he subs in two redundant DMs, Camargo and Clark, as well as the slowed and sloppy Ching. Our skill and speed players looked tired late but they were forced to go 90. More energy out wide would have been useful. Kinnear is just better front-running with his chosen few than chasing a game, not a great game manager.
Also, yesterday underlined some defensive weakness, NYRB did a good job of playing fast and testing our defensive speed. I’ve suggested Kinnear ought to trade some of the redundant DMs for backline help because we’re paper thin there. You’d like to have a little ability for the Dynamo to adjust tactically in defense from game to game, particularly with CCL arriving.
Agreed. If he continues this level of play, another USMNT call-up might not be far away.
Dax plays a crucial, albeit, unglamorous role. In my opinion, he’s the team (and possibly league) MVP.
I agree that Mac cant finish, but Lade did get in his head enough for Mac to draw a Yellow and had to tone it down. So Lade did his job very well.
The Red Bulls play noticeably better with Dax McCarty in the line-up pulling the strings. Without him, they look lost (witness the away game against Houston.) While I really like Le Toux, he clearly doesn’t excel in his midfield winger role but there’s no space for him up top with Henry and Cooper. Might they consider trading Le Toux for someone to back-up Dax? (Tainio just not healthy enough. Same goes for Marquez, as well as his other “issues.”)
Hmmmm. This Mac Kandji is an interesting player. He would make a good left back. And Cahill. He’s tall. He’d be a good center back. And this McCarty fellow is very pugnacious. He’d be a good forward. Allow me to write this all down in my notebook!
Lade & LeToux final pass and finishing
Bruin and Cooper
Cahill’s first half
Henry. It is amazing that no one will dare say it, but Thierry had a royal stinker tonight. He worked hard, but he just had one of those rare nights where he wasn’t seeing the game. He looked lost, missing easy connections, open teammates and open nets. It happens to even the best. Impressive that NYRB could pull this off with Henry being so off his game.
Lindpere – dangerous at seemingly every touch
Davis & Garcia
Kandji getting by defenders
Lade & LeToux work rate and combo play
Hall & Gaudette
Houston short passing
NYRB long balls
Roy Miller (really? Yes, he was composed on every touch).
Cahill’s 2d half
By my estimation, it should have been 5-3 if Ching, Mac, Henry and LeToux had finished their easy chances. Henry and Mac both had 1v1s w the keepers (Mac had 2), Chinger missed a bunny header, Seb flubbed an open shot from the middle of the box with a wide open corner, and Henry shot the ball directly into a fallen down Tally Hall instead of sliding it to a wide open Cooper in front of the open net.
Yes, it was an oVerstatement to say Lade shut him down. Mac had several great chances. He is one of the worst finishers I’ve ever seen, though, for an offensive, skill player.
I hate that NBC can’t master a simple offsides replay to show it for sure, but he did look offsides.
Red Bulls earned this one. 180 degrees from last weeks performance. Also got a little lucky: could have easily been 2-2 if kandji knew how to finish.
Seeing Cahill in a Red Bull kit still looks weird to me. All in all I thought it was a good game.
Not a terrible game from the Dynamo, just not enough. And Kandji still threatened on a few occasions, I wouldn’t go so far as to call him a shadow of the player from last week.
If he could only finish…
Most every team has someone else for two games (in their conference) while they only visit them once. You are not unique.
This is the last we play each other this season.
How many more times do we have to play NY in Ny this season? Good job MLS.
Good way to grind out a win. That was offside on Henry on the 2nd goal, but since 90% of the previous offsides calls on him weren’t, it was justice served.