With good defense comes a good chance of success.
The New York Red Bulls have found that to be the case as they try to extend their recent surge Wednesday night at the expense of the Montreal Impact in a clash of Eastern Conference co-leaders.
New York (5-4-2) and Montreal (5-1-2) are two of four teams with 17 points in the East heading into this week's matches. The Red Bulls have seen their back line become more cohesive of late as Brandon Barklage, Jamison Olave, Markus Holgersson and Roy Miller have entrenched themselves as starters, conceding only three goals while winning four of their last five matches after yielding 10 in their first six.
They wrapped up a two-game road swing with six points after stifling Columbus on Saturday in a 1-0 victory. Tim Cahill again came up big offensively, scoring the match's only goal in the 80th minute after netting both in New York's 2-1 win at Toronto FC on April 27, and goalkeeper Luis Robles stopped Federico Higuain's penalty kick eight minutes before Cahill struck.
"The defense has been incredible," Robles, who had six saves, told the team's official website. "As far as the effort that they've given for 90 minutes, the way that they've worked for each other, the way they've covered for each other. If that's something that we can continue to produce for us this season, we're going to be dangerous."
The Impact had allowed one goal over their previous two games heading into San Jose on Saturday, but that defense failed them after halftime. Up 2-0 at the break, Montreal conceded a pair of second-half goals - including one by Sam Cronin in injury time - and settled for a 2-all draw.
"It is always a shame to suffer an equalizing goal in the last minutes of the game, but our team did well today with the heat, the travel and pressure applied by the Earthquakes," coach Marco Schallibaum told the Impact's official website. "Overall, we are happy with the point on the road and the performance."
Montreal has allowed four goals in going 0-1-1 its last two road games after giving up just one in winning the first two.
Midfielder Justin Mapp, who scored on both sides of halftime to account for Montreal's offense, had put only one of his three shots on goal in his previous five matches before connecting on both his attempts Saturday. His only goal in 25 lifetime matches versus New York came in last year's 5-2 loss at Red Bull Arena - Montreal's only game there since joining MLS.
The Impact, though, have won the last two games between the teams, including a 1-0 victory March 23. Marco Di Vaio scored in the 14th minute and Troy Perkins made three saves for the second of his three shutouts this season.