2010 in Review: Best & worst of New York

HARRISON, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls had a season to remember and a postseason to forget as the team finished atop the Eastern Conference for just the second time in franchise history but sputtered out of the MLS Cup Playoffs with a shocking home loss to San Jose in the first round.

The play on the field was overshadowed by Red Bulls' splash off the field, with the signings of Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez making for the most expensive and flashy summer of cash in league history. With a solid core returning for next year, perhaps 2010 was merely a building block for the years ahead. Here's a look at the best and worst of the season.

Best moment of the year

[inline_node:321462]After years of promises and broken promises, the club ushered in a new era in late March when it broke the seal on Red Bull Arena. The state-of-the-art facility sold out for the opener, a friendly against Brazilian club Santos, when new signing Joel Lindpere scored the first goal before 25,000 fans.

Then, club legend Mike Petke hammered in the game’s second goal and secured an iconic moment by running up to the fans and kissing the honorary patch on his jersey for the stadium opening.

Worst moment

It took until season’s end for the club’s worst moment, but the ouster to San Jose in the Eastern Conference semifinals had to be it. New York enjoyed the run of play in the second leg and the quality of chances but could not finish in front of goal until Juan Pablo Angel, in his last game with the club, tallied in the 80th minute. In front of a nearly packed Red Bull Arena, New York were unable to capitalize on their aggregate advantage heading into the home leg, and the most expensive roster in league history hit the golf course early.

Best goal

The Red Bulls were in the midst of their worst stretch of the season, having lost four consecutive games in league play. The team appeared destined for a scoreless home tie in early June against Houston but for a piece of individual brilliance by Ángel. On the stroke of stoppage time, the club's all-time leading scorer powered a 30-yard free kick over the wall and past a sprawling Pat Onstad. The stadium erupted as the team celebrated in the South Ward with the supporters. The wonder goal righted the ship for New York, who won three days later against Chivas USA to head into the World Cup break with good vibrations.

WATCH: Ángel scores last-gasp winner

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Best save

It may have been a road loss, but the Sept. 4 setback at Real Salt Lake produced one of the team’s highlights of the year. On a point-blank header from US international Robbie Findley, Greg Sutton parried away the effort away with split-second timing. Sutton, a former Canadian international, was the backup to Bouna Coundoul all season long, but stepped in for the first-choice keeper when the player was away on international duty.

WATCH: Stunning save by Sutton on Findley

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Team MVP: Joel Lindpere

It’d be hard to argue that Estonian international wasn’t the team’s most valuable player, as he was the engine that could in the Red Bulls midfield. Few players in the league have the work rate of Lindpere, and coupled with his deft touch and aggressive runs off the ball, the midfielder made an impression in his first year in MLS.

Best newcomer: Tim Ream

Tim Ream was a revelation in the back line. The second-round pick in January's SuperDraft played with a veteran’s savvy and perhaps was the best distributor of the ball of any defender in the league. His positioning was solid and he averaged less than a foul a game, a remarkable stat for any player, let alone a rookie. He could be a fixture of the US national team’s back four for years to come.

Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at Twitter.com/kdyer1012

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