Kick Off: Forwards are key to Red Bulls' success

Kick Off - Luke Rodgers and Thierry Henry

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One writer likens them to a duo in a “buddy cop comedy — think Rush Hour or 48 Hours.” Whatever the comparison, New York Red Bulls goal-scorers Luke Rodgers and Thierry Henry were reunited and led their team to a resounding 5-0 victory over Toronto FC last night, sending RBNY back to the top of the Eastern Conference.

The stats are pretty impressive. In the nine games that Henry and Rodgers have started, RBNY are 5-1-3. More importantly, they have scored 21 goals and conceded only eight in those games.

Henry felt the turning point came early in the second half when NY goalkeeper Greg Sutton deflected a Toronto FC shot off the post.

“It could have easily been 2-1," the Canadian said. "They hit the post and I’m sure we would have had a game like we had since the beginning of the season, where we maybe would have gotten scared.”

Toronto FC’s chief excuse? With all the injuries to defenders, they were forced to play with an emergency center back in Richard Eckersley and they also missed Designated Player Julian de Guzman and captain Maicon Santos.

It wasn’t a good day for Canadian teams in the slate of MLS midweek games last night.

The last-place Vancouver Whitecaps can’t catch a break even when they play well. After a fairly strong game by the expansion side, the Whitecaps failed to convert a penalty kick, hit the post and had a man sent off before conceding a 90th minute winner to Jeff Cunningham. Said Vancouver 'keeper Joe Cannon: “Maybe we've got to be smarter. It's an immaturity. It's not good enough.”

According to Vancouver veteran defender Alain Rochat, even a scoreless tie would not have been a satisfactory result: "Zero-zero at home means nothing. We created good situations but we're not 100 percent confident. We make a small mistake and then we're scared for 10 minutes."

Cunningham’s first goal of the season for Columbus was also No. 133 of his career, tying Jaime Moreno’s all-time MLS record and also claiming the No. 1 spot among the Crew’s all-time scorers, breaking a tie with Brian McBride. While elated by the milestone, he also addressed his nearly four-month dry spell: “This is the longest I’ve gone without scoring. There has been a lack of confidence a little bit.”

With the victory, the Columbus Crew moved into a tie for second place in the East, just one point behind the Red Bulls. One team that has dropped off the pace from the top three is Sporting Kansas City who, despite numerous opportunities, could only come away with a 1-1 draw at home last night against the Colorado Rapids.

Sporting manager Peter Vermes, who referred to the goal by the Rapids’ Conor Casey as “soft,” criticized the defending champs for their attitude on Wednesday night: “For me, it’s about entertainment. When you go somewhere, it’s your responsibility to also play. … To take as much time as [they did] on every single set piece, it gets old.”

Chivas USA caught up with the San Jose Earthquakes in the Western Conference standings by defeating them 2-0 on Wednesday night. While Chivas manager Robin Fraser felt that “win No. 5 … has been a long time coming,” his Earthquakes counterpart, Frank Yallop, has already tossed the game out the window: “Bad game, move on.”

More so than the two goals, it was the shutout that was most impressive for Fraser, who merely wanted to see the team stay focused: “When we are concentrating, defensively we're not giving up the types of things that we have been. … It was important that we go through the exercise of really focusing on not giving up dangerous opportunities.”

Off the field, MLS teams are a week away from the opening of the transfer window. Current Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who will retire at the end of this season, has come out in favor of a move by EPL goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann to the Seattle Sounders: “I'd love for Marcus to get the opportunity that I did, to be able to come home and finish your career at Seattle.”

However, it seems that Hull City in England are keen on making a run for Hahnemann’s services.

A new trialist is joining the ranks of the Sounders according to reports, and he’s coming all the way from Tanzania.

Meanwhile, the Sounders’ rivals in the West, the LA Galaxy, is apparently still determining whether central defender A.J. DeLaGarza is suffering from concussion symptoms. The tests continue as a home game against the Chicago Fire looms on Saturday.

In Honduras they’re calling it a done deal: Andy Najar will be joining the Under-23 Olympic team for CONCACAF qualifiers at the end of July. (SPANISH)

You don’t hear this too often from coaches: FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman says that attacking star Brek Shea should aim to win the MLS scoring title: “The Golden Boot is something he should focus on. We had Kenny Cooper do it and had Jeff [Cunningham] do it but those guys took PKs. Brek's not taking the PKs, so all his goals are in the run of play.”

The Portland Timbers will be facing Club América tonight in an exhibition match at JELD-WEN Field. The club has “set aside half the stadium for Club América suppoters,” according to this report. There will be a live webstream of the match in both English and Spanish on PortlandTimbers.com.

Lastly, read about the minor league soccer player from Atlanta, who is leaning on advice from his dad — a former Major League Baseball All-Star pitcher.

Speaking of baseball and soccer: Did you know that English club Aston Villa were “the only ever winners of a professional national baseball league in England?”

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

WATCH: Club América ready for exhibition clash vs. Portland Timbers

Armchair Analyst: Introducing the new Opta Chalkboard on MLSsoccer.com

Toronto FC determined to learn from 5-0 drubbing at the hands of New York


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