It was, if nothing else, one of the more entertaining 1-1 Major League Soccer matches you'll see this season. The New York Red Bulls were again unable to find a way to defeat Chivas USA, and thus RBNY saw their five-game win streak come to an end. This game was hardly short on drama, with Juan Pablo Angel making an emotional return to Red Bull Arena, and Thierry Henry making his first start in nearly a month. While New York fans have every right to feel at least a bit frustrated, games like Wednesday night's contest remind you that sometimes it's just not your night.
The wasted chance: Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy was solid, disrupting would-be opportunities in both halves of play. Kennedy appeared to be beaten just six minutes before the break, however, but Roy Miller failed to make the correct decision, costing the Red Bulls what would have been a very important goal. Miller, who had himself an up-and-down evening, began a brilliant give-and-go with Joel Lindpere a few yards past midfield. Miller then got around his marker down the left wing before getting by a sliding challenge and entering the penalty area. Four Chivas players closed in on Miller, and Kenny Cooper positioned himself right in front of net. Instead of sliding the ball past the last defender for Cooper, Miller played a touch across goal. The ball bounced safely on the wrong side of the far post, and the match remained scoreless up until the halftime whistle.
The match changed: When Juan Pablo Angel gave New York fans yet another memorable moment, this time while wearing a Chivas shirt. Chivas earned a corner kick roughly 90 seconds into the second half, a corner taken by Blair Gavin. Gavin swung the ball into the box, and Rauwshan McKenzie rose above the crowd and sent a header toward the awaiting Angel. Angel, with his back turned toward goal, swung his right boot around and hammered home a strike that New York goalkeeper Ryan Meara had no chance of stopping. Angel then jogged off to the sideline without celebrating, as if to say "I wish I didn't have to do that to you guys" to a RBNY crowd that saluted their former hero both before and after the match.
The equalizer: Was a thing of beauty, truly a team goal that was created by three different players. Brandon Barklage, who was again excellent in distributing the ball forward, played the speedy Dane Richards toward the right portion of the box with arguably the best through ball of the evening. Richards then sent a cross toward Kenny Cooper, who did well to remain onside while beating the back line. The unmarked Cooper slotted the ball home, and New York still had over 30 minutes to search for a game-winner that they ultimately never found.
The match-saver: Dax McCarty, almost always the shortest man on the pitch during a match, beat Kennedy with, of all things, a header in the 83rd minute. Henry swung a corner into the box toward McCarty, who was given far too much space to nod the ball toward the far post. Chivas defender Ante Jazic was right there at the post, however, and he calmly cleared the ball off the line with his left boot. Neither side would come any closer to delivering a winner, and the match ended 1-1.
The (other) return: Angel made the most emotional return to Red Bull Arena of the evening, but it sure was nice to see Henry back on the pitch for a full 90 minutes. Henry, the early-season MVP until going down to a hamstring injury back on April 28, was actively searching for a goal five minutes into the match. MSG cameras caught Henry yelling at teammates for poor crosses three times in the game's first 18 minutes, and the unofficial final score sheet for the match listed Henry has having attempted seven total shots in the match (I would have guessed no fewer than ten). Henry twice came close to heading the ball past Kennedy, and he was caught offside on three separate occasions, two of which probably, had he remained even with the final defender, resulted in the New York captain finding the back of the net. In all, I'd say Henry looked pretty good for a guy who hasn't played in a month.
Overall: Plenty of back-and-forth action, two dramatic goals, and a final ten minutes that had fans all over the arena on their feet. There certainly are worse ways to end a night. New York may have failed to earn that historic sixth consecutive win, but they still haven't lost since April 22. I do question RBNY head coach Hans Backe not using a single substitute on the night. A fresh Mehdi Ballouchy, who has done well while pushing forward into the attacking third throughout the season, would have been a better option than the visibly gassed Rafa Marquez during the final 20 minutes of play. Considering the job Backe has done thus far this season, though, I'm not even going to question him immediately following the draw.
I may change my feelings on that particular subject upon watching the match again via DVR on Thursday.
- Sports & Recreation
- Thierry Henry
- Juan Pablo Angel
- New York Red Bulls
- New York