This was a tough test for the New York Red Bulls as it would be a single game that would determine them to advance into the Conference Semi-Finals of a goal aggregate playoff, or heading back home wondering if their season was a failure with so many chances missed.
The New York Red Bulls found a way to steal a victory to the MLS Conference Semi-Finals against FC Dallas Wednesday night after securing a 2-0 victory at Pizza Hut Park.
It started in the second half as Dax McCarty picked up a leg injury from a bad foul by Daniel Hernandez. The vilified Medhi Ballouchy would sub into the match in the 59th minute and created some magic. Rafa Marquez sent Joel Lindpere on a run and with a long shot at the top of the FC Dallas area, forced Kevin Hartman to make a save. But Dane Richards got the rebound to Ballouchy who quickly crossed it to Lindpere and finally got it underneath Hartman in the 61st minute and the Red Bulls got their one goal lead. So many times the supporters have expressed their frustrations against Ballouchy for his mediocre play, but this time he was rewarded for his hard work.
The Red Bulls were playing well and looked to be in control until a terrible tackle sent them down to ten men. In the 79th minute Jan Gunnar Solli was attacking with the ball and lost it to four defenders. He tried to regain it but sadly made a needless tackle on Daniel Hernandez from behind and was shown a straight red card.
With ten minutes left in the match it was bunker-down time for the Red Bulls and they looked confident on the ball. Just before second half stoppage time there was a head-to-head collision as Rafa Marquez and Zach Loyd accidentally met inside the Red Bulls area.
FC Dallas went down to ten men with the injury to Loyd but six minutes of stoppage time was awarded with a few extra since it took the medical staff to remove him off the field. When it got to the eighth minute Thierry Henry finally got into the mix and converted the goal.
The Red Bulls were under siege by FC Dallas during the entire first half but withheld the pressure with some strong defense. Frank Rost in goal played spectacularly for the Red Bulls as he used his height advantage on some of the rising shots that could have spelled trouble.
But the big questions for the Red Bulls in the next round are these: Who will fill in for Solli for his one game suspension, and will Luke Rodgers be available from his swollen right knee injury? All answers will come before Halloween weekend when the Red Bulls face LA Galaxy on Sunday at 3pm ET in Harrison, New Jersey (ESPN2).