LONDON — The famous chant of “1-0 to the Arsenal” was often heard echoing through the streets of North London in the 1970s and '80s as Arsenal FC’s dominant defensive displays took the English game by storm. But on Saturday that chant changed to “1-0 to the Red Bulls!” as New York put in a supreme defensive effort to shut down a hugely talented Paris Saint-Germain side.
The solitary strike that won New York their opening game of the Emirates Cup came from fans favorite Joel Lindpere. The Estonian was delighted with his strike after a sublime interchange of passes with fellow forward Juan Agudelo.
“It was a good combination. I got the ball. I made a good touch and then I played it to Juan,” Lindpere said. “He passed it to me on the run and I hit it to the far post. The keeper had no chance.”
The attacking midfielder, who was New York’s MVP for the 2010 season and was also a finalist for the MLS Newcomer of the year award, put in another tireless display of running on both sides of the ball.
New York center back and captain for the day, Tim Ream, certainly appreciated Lindpere’s strike.
“We knew we would get our chances and Joel put a good one away,” Ream said. “We come away with a 1-0 win and we are happy.”
Lindpere looked lively throughout the win, but especially in the first half, as he and his Red Bull teammates came flying out of the blocks. The MLS side outplayed their Ligue 1 opponents as the Red Bulls took the game to Les Parisiens, having 57.6% of possession in the first half.
The tone for the half was set after just 15 minutes. Dane Richards used his pace to go past PSG left back Loick Landre with ease before pulling a delightful ball back to the onrushing Lindpere. “The Beast” seemed certain to score as his first touch took him past the pedestrian PSG defense.
Yet PSG’s Serbian international center back Milan Bisevac recovered with a wonderful last-ditch tackle to deny the Estonian terrier.
Paris Saint-Germain stopped Lindpere on that occasion. But they couldn’t do much about his mesmerizing give-and-go with Agudelo later in the half. Wave after wave of New York attack ensued down both flanks as the first half wore on, with Lindpere the linchpin playing just off lone front man Agudelo.
Yet despite a solid defensive effort in the second half, the team did not offer as much going forward compared to the excellent attacking display seen in the first. Lindpere offered a simple solution for this.
“Obviously we knew we only had one day here and it is a big time difference,” the match-winner said. “You can see that in the second half we just didn’t have the legs to play 90 minutes.”
New York were visibly feeling the effects of the past few days of trans-Atlantic travelling late in the game but held out for the win and the shutout. The little Estonian felt the victory was good news not just for New York but the MLS as a whole.
“We had to defend very well in the second half,” Lindpere said. “But we made it and held on. It is a very important win.”