After two fantastic wins at Red Bull Arena the Red Bulls had a tough task at hand when they traveled to Columbus, Ohio to face the Crew. The last time they got a victory at Crew Stadium was in the 2006 season, capped by a highlight goal by Jerrod LaVenture.
It got started early for the Red Bulls as Kenny Cooper got on the board in the 3rd minute. Thierry Henry, at midfield, sent a long ball into the area and Cooper chests it down, then made a quick turnaround shot to his right and beat Andy Gruenebaum inside the far post.
His second of the match came ten minutes later as Dane Richards tried to send the ball into the area, but it deflected off a Columbus defender. With the ball in mid-air, Cooper found a way to put a head on it and the dream start became a reality.
Since the home opener against the Rapids, Henry has been on a goal scoring tear and continues to do so later in the first half. In the 40th minute Roy Miller delivered a nice ball towards Henry, who deposited it like the goal he converted against Leeds United in the FA Cup while on loan with Arsenal.
Then after Chad Marshall broke Ryan Meara’s clean sheet, Henry tallied his seventh of the season in the 90th minute when he settled down a Joel Lindpere cross. Henry blasted it inside the upper ninety of the near post to sew up the first road win of the season.
What has happened to the Red Bulls after starting with two straight losses to start the season? Did they decide to wake up all of the sudden and start scoring goals out of nowhere to dominate their opposition? It’s true that they haven’t played a team like Sporting Kansas City yet, but that time will come.
But as soon as Hans Backe decided to use Cooper up top to pair with Henry at Red Bull Arena against the Rapids, everything fell into place – and the goals have kept on coming. The early Golden Boot race is being paced by the starting strikers for the Red Bulls.
For the first time in his three year career with the Red Bulls, Lindpere was not in the starting XI. He came on in the 80th minute for Richards and delivered that fantastic cross to Henry. It’s clear though that Backe was sending a message. He hasn’t been happy with his wide players, but it appears his motivational tactic did the trick.
Out of the fourteen goals that have been scored by Cooper and Henry, only Mehdi Ballouchy has converted from the midfield. Once again Ryan Meara looked sharp in net, but sadly lost his clean sheet bid to a Chad Marshall header in the 89th minute. He is showing plenty of confidence between the posts.
Since losing the injured Wilman Conde, the Red Bulls have won three in a row and are reasserting themselves as a force in the Eastern Conference. Of course Sporting Kansas City is in first at the moment, but down the road this match-up will be enticing.