How many times can you draw in a season and finally find a way to hold on to three points at the end? Well the New York Red Bulls finally found a way to do it in front of over 21,000 on Friday as well as a televised national audience on Soccer Night in America.
It has been well documented in this six match winless streak with five draws and a loss starting on the road against the Galaxy until last week’s crushing stoppage time draw with thirty seconds left on the watch at home against the Columbus Crew. But finally the Red Bulls were able to achieve that goal.
They were knocking on the Revolution’s door all night for a goal, but in the 33rd minute it seemed that the Revs were going to get on the scoreboard first. Steven Keel marked Rajko Lekic and tracked him down all the way into the New York area, when both men fell down and Terry Vaughn emphatically pointed to the spot and a yellow card was issued at Keel, that Steve Nicol thought it should’ve been a different color.
“If you look at the play, it’s a red card, not a yellow” said Nicol, “Why is he giving him a yellow? There were many reasons to give him a red.” In the 34th minute it was Captain Shalrie Joseph who walked up to the spot and after the whistle blew, he struck it towards Greg Sutton’s lower left side and was stopped. That was the second time Sutton has stopped a spot kick in three tries and it gave the Red Bulls a lift.
“The one tonight, even though I guessed right, he hit the ball hard” said Sutton, “I was fortunate enough to get my hand out there far enough. When you have a seven-foot wingspan it doesn’t hurt, that is for sure.”
At the same time a little luck never hurts to get a win, especially when the other side provides it when Ryan Cochrane slid into a cross and knocked it into his own net to help the Red Bulls get the early lead. Thierry Henry tried to get a wide open Luke Rodgers to convert a goal in the 37th minute but Cochrane decided to help them out inadvertently.
But as the second half got underway it was a fantastic looping ball from Keel that sprung Henry into the New England area. Cochrane would be snake bitten again trying to defend the former French international. Henry twisted and turned Cochrane twice and smacked the ball inside the near post for the two goal lead.
The Revolution never gave up as Zak Boggs was wide open and converted his chance on a cross four minutes later. Then the big moment came in the 87th minute where you thought the Red Bulls allowed another heartbreaking equalizer, but the offside flag went up disallowing it. On replay it showed that Rajko Lekic was ahead on the play by a lot and prevented his side from getting the draw.
For Hans Backe this was a big win for the club that is going to be on a brutal four match road trip. “It’s very, very important to get three points in a very strange game” said Backe. “We started phenomenal the first 20 minutes. Luke (Rodgers) had four or five almost 100% scoring chances. Good effort and hard working.”
Now it’s time for the gruesome four match road trip to the Northwest, Midwest and a long trip back west to Silicon Valley with a US Open Cup Match before it.