The Red Bulls completed their participation in the Emirates Cup on Sunday and they aren’t returning to the States empty-handed. They will return stateside as the 2011 Emirates Cup champion. Here is a look at their performance in the tournament and what it means for the MLS.
Red Bulls 1-0 PSG
The Red Bulls started the two-day tournament with a victory over now oil money-rich Paris St. Germain. PSG has been busy upgrading their squad, but it wasn’t enough to beat the Red Bulls. New York got off to a quick start in the game and it was punctuated by a 27th minute goal by Joel Lindpere off a well placed through ball by Juan Agudelo. PSG came back strong in the second half garnering most of the possession, but they failed to take their chances. New York finished the day on top of the leader board after their surprising victory.
Red Bulls 1-1 Arsenal
The second day was a special moment for Arsenal and Thierry Henry as he was given a rousing ovation on his return to the Emirates. In typical Arsenal fashion, the Gunners controlled much of the first half dominating possession. The Red Bulls did have a few chances with Henry shooting wide and forcing a save from Arsenal keeper Szczesny on a free-kick opportunity. Arsenal finished the first half 1-0 to the good on a headed goal from captain of the day Robin van Persie from a cross by Tomas Rosicky. The second half went much like the first as Arsenal again dominated possession, but couldn’t find another goal. Their chance to win the Emirates Cup was squandered on an 84th minute own goal by young center back Kyle Bartley. With the game finishing level, the Red Bulls were crowned champions.
The MLS certainly took a hit with recent fixtures against top English sides most notably Manchester United’s thrashing of Seattle 7-0 and dismantling of the MLS All-Stars 4-0. With the Red Bulls winning the Emirates Cup, the MLS regains some credibility. Also it opens the doors for other MLS clubs to participate in the tournament. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Rapids make an appearance now with Kroenke a majority owner of both clubs. The Red Bulls winning and drawing a match against top European sides, although friendly matches will garner attention around the world. It is a great publicity boost for the MLS, who certainly needed it.
The tournament also provided the Red Bulls players with experience against top players, which can only benefit New York and ultimately the MLS. Having the Red Bulls participate in the Emirates Cup, although drawing the ire of fans, was very beneficial to the Red Bulls and MLS. It also provided a nice moment for Henry. I look forward to seeing more MLS teams participate in these types of tournaments to grow the league and ultimately provide a better product, for us, the fans.