This was going to be a big test for the New York Red Bulls as they were coming off a 4-1 thrashing on the road against Toronto FC. Their next match at home was against the San Jose Earthquakes who were coming off back to back one goal victories at Buck Shaw Stadium against the Wizards and the league leading Los Angeles Galaxy. Well Saturday night it was a strong Red Bulls side that was going to give Frank Yallop’s side a tough time.
Dane Richards performance since being drafted in 2007 by Bruce Arena has been decent. He can always attack down the right flank but when he gets close to the opposition’s area he seems to not continue on or his crosses have been suspect. For the last couple of weeks Richards has made better decisions, better crosses and hasn’t lost the ball everytime he makes an attacking run. The only time he has scored was the friendly matches against Santos FC and against Manchester City during the Barclay’s NY Challenge. This time in first half stoppage time he finally got one that counted.
In the first added minute of two, Joel Lindpere sent a nice ball to Richards who beat the defender. He had so much room and so much time on the ball, all he had to do was to beat Earthquakes keeper Jon Busch with a stutter step and slotted the ball into an open goal. Red Bull arena erupted for Richards as he finally scored his first in the 22nd match of the season. But Richards wasn’t finished tonight. On this night he was looking to help out one of his new teammates who was also having his problems putting in a goal.
In the 63rd minute Richards attacked down the right flank and when he got close to the end line, crossed the ball to Thierry Henry who settled it and smacked home his first official Major League Soccer goal. There was plenty of relief coming from the supporters as well as Head Coach Hans Backe, even though he has said in training “If Henry doesn’t score, it’s o.k. because he is calming down the players and helping out.” After Henry scored Red Bull Arena started to chant Henry’s name and he was happy to hear it.
All match long you saw the quality coming from Thierry Henry, Rafa Marquez and finally Dane Richards every single time they touched the ball. Fancy spins, cutting through two defenders, fancy ball flips and always in position to score. If it’s not just missing the net, or hitting the posts, Jon Busch would be there to make the saves. But once again Hans Backe was happy to see a complete technical performance from his side. “When we look at 90 minutes, the possession game when we’re two-up. It was the first time I’ve seen our team playing rather smart just to get it.” said Backe. “Get hold of the ball, turn, passing all the time and still creating two decent chances when its two-up.”
With the Columbus Crew drawing FC Dallas Saturday afternoon at Crew Stadium, New York has cut the deficit to four points. But at the moment the club and Backe are not looking to leapfrog over them. All they want is to secure the permanent playoff position which is second in the east and wait to see who their opponents will be come end of October. But still this will be a strong final two months towards the end of the regular season as everything is finally coming together.