The New York Red Bulls and Sporting Kansas City were both in desperate need of a win on Saturday night, and after the first 10 minutes of the match it looked like Sporting KC might have the energy to pull off the road victory.
The Red Bulls, and specifically Thierry Henry, had other ideas.
Led by a strong performance by their defense, and Henry’s magic, the Red Bulls posted a 2-1 victory at Red Bull Arena.
Henry delivered the pivotal play for the Red Bulls once again, scoring on a stunning right-footed strike in the 52nd minute to make the score 2-0. Dom Dwyer pulled one back for Sporting KC just a minute later, but that’s as close as the visitors came.
The win helped the Red Bulls climbed back into playoff position, pulling a point ahead of struggling Toronto FC for fifth place in the Eastern Conference.
Sporting KC started brightly, putting serious pressure on the Red Bulls early on, but the home team weathered the storm, playing some of the best defense they have played in recent memory.
The match turned in the 11th minute when Matt Besler fouled Bradley Wright-Phillips at the edge of the penalty area. Referee Hilario Grajeda began to call the foul outside the penalty area, but proceeded to whistle for a penalty kick. Wright-Phillips converted the penalty for his league-leading 21st goal of the season.
Sporting KC nearly pulled one back in the 27th minute when Dwyer raced in behind the Red Bulls defense, but his first chance of the night went over the crossbar.
Dwyer had another chance to equalize just before halftime, but saw his low, left-footed shot saved well by a Luis Robles stop.
Sporting KC started the second half with a steady diet of attacks down the left wing, trying to attack Red Bulls rookie Chris Duvall with Graham Zusi, who gave Duvall trouble in the first half. Duvall responded to the challenge well in the second half, frustrating the U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder and thwarting every attempt to create chances down his side of the field.
Henry looked to lock up the match with his outstanding right-footed thunderbolt, but Dwyer’s quick response made for an intense final 30 minutes.
The Red Bulls defense was up to the task, with Jamison Olave and Ibrahim Sekagya clogging up the middle.
The loss, Sporting KC’s fourth straight, keeps them four points behind D.C. United for first place in the East. The Red Bulls will have a tough test next time out, with a Wednesday night clash against D.C. United.
What did you think of the match?
Share your thoughts below.