HARRISON, N.J. – In a week in which so much was said about the New York Red Bulls, captain Thierry Henry pushed aside the distractions to give them a much-needed three points over an Eastern Conference foe.
The Red Bulls defeated the Houston Dynamo 1-0 at Red Bull Arena on Saturday night courtesy of a second-half goal from Henry. New York dominated the match for large stretches, but poor finishing kept the two playoff hopefuls level until Henry scored a deflected low cross in the 47th minute.
The Red Bulls, who grabbed headlines this week for a number of reasons, also overcame losing midfielder Tim Cahill to a late red card just three minutes after he entered the game as a substitute.
New York moved to 11-9-11 on the season and up a spot into fourth place in the East, while Houston fell to 10-14-6 and now are a long shot to reach the postseason despite still being mathematically alive in eighth place.
Dominant from the opening whistle, the Red Bulls frustratingly failed to find the back of the net until the 47th minute. Bradley Wright-Phillips and Henry each rattled the woodwork in the first half with a rebound shot and free kick, respectively, and Lloyd Sam also missed a good look just before the halftime whistle with a left-footed curler.
Henry then capitalized on his next golden opportunity. Sam raced down the right flank and unleashed a low cross that Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric seemed to get a piece of, but the ball fell right into the path of the veteran striker for an easy finish. The goal was Henry’s 10th of the season.
Houston tried to muster a response immediately. Brad Davis hit a cross that Giles Barnes could only weakly direct on frame, and Omar Cummings also failed to seriously test Luis Robles with a low effort from distance.
Cahill, who said Friday he had no qualms with leaving for international duty despite New York's precarious playoff position, then entered the match to help close out the victory in the 85th minute. But he was questionably sent to the showers shortly thereafter by referee Jair Marrufo for delivering a rough tackle on Boniek Garcia.
Things do not get any less intense for the Red Bulls, as they host Toronto FC in a match full of Eastern Conference playoff implications next Saturday. The Dynamo also play Toronto next, as they visit BMO Field this Wednesday before returning home to host D.C. United on Oct. 12.
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by email at Franco8813@gmail.com.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Thierry Henry||Stays cool and composed as drama and doubt swirl all around his team; the goal was simple but his overall performance was pivotal.|
|2||Dax McCarty||When he's on, the Red Bulls usually are too. Patrolled deep midfield relentlessly and set the tempo with his distribution.|
A robust defensive performance that nearly saved a desperate team. Made myriad important blocks and recoveries.