Once again a dark cloud hovered over the New York Red Bulls with two major goals hanging over them Saturday night. First was how to get three points against a dangerous side (Portland Timbers), who were ahead of them in the playoff standings. And second was to move on past the controversial comments made by Rafa Marquez against colleague Tim Ream.
The club knew what was in front of them and they took charge of their playoff destiny. It was in the 21st minute that Dane Richards scored on a tight angle. Beating Diego Chara to the net, Richards went wide and cut in for the score. Chara was very upset as Lovel Palmer didn’t help him with the cover.
The second goal came from the penalty spot in the second half. Joel Lindpere delivered the corner in the 63rd minute and found Thierry Henry in the area, who shot the ball which deflected off three Timbers players. Kalif Alhassan, on the far post, got his right arm on the ball and Alex Prus awarded the spot kick.
The next minute Alhassan was shown a straight red card and was sent off. Luke Rodgers took the spot kick and blasted it top shelf in the 66th minute for the two goals to zero lead. After ninety minutes were gone the Red Bulls took the full three points and passed by the Timbers for the final playoff spot.
“This game was a must win,” said Hans Backe, “We could see it over this past week; three games and we needed to pick up six points. There was definitely a lot of hard work, a lot of energy and the right attitude since the beginning of the game.”
Give credit to Portland as they never gave up once the second half got underway as they tried to equalize. In the 66th minute a laser from Alhassan was spinning and nailed the bottom of the crossbar. Kenny Cooper waiting for the rebound also hit the far corner of the woodwork.
“I felt that we had a really, really good performance from us today,” said John Spencer. “I felt that we never showed them any respect, whatsoever. It was really unfortunate not to tie the game up 1-1 with two balls that hit the crossbars within 60 seconds.”
The most important thing of course for the Red Bulls was how they reacted after what happened from the comments made by Marquez. You can tell that everything was smoothed out behind closed doors and it showed in the locker room.
“We kind of got back to defending first and foremost; kind of how we had it in Dallas,” said Stephen Keel. “Cynical defending is what they want to call it. Just keeping everything in front of us, nice and organized, keep everything tight and keep a clean sheet.”
Once again the Red Bulls have passed the Timbers in the playoff standings and will travel to BMO Field to face Toronto FC while the Timbers travel to Vancouver without Alhassan and Jewsbury who picked up yellow cards and will be suspended.