UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – It was, by all accounts, a gritty win for the Red Bulls, who escaped from Pizza Hut Park on Saturday night with a 1-0 victory over FC Dallas. The shutout was the first for New York since July 16 and the first-ever victory in MLS for goalkeeper Frank Rost.
“I was happy we won the game,” Rost said after the win. “For each player, it was a good feeling after the match. You could see on the face of the players that a lot of [pressure] fall down. I hope we can take this good feeling [into] the next match.”
Rost, a former German international who signed as a Designated Player in mid-July, had been bothered by a quadriceps injury for the past month, and his performances prior to Saturday had left him with much to prove. FC Dallas gave him the chance, holding a significant edge in shots and possession, but Rost solidified the backline with his veteran savvy and control of the area.
“He played great,” head coach Hans Backe said. “You see how he dealt with all the crosses, the corners, the free kicks. He’s big there, really, really big there and tough. His kicking was phenomenal compared to his injury.”
The performance helped silence – for now – many critics who questioned the rationale behind the Red Bulls signing a goalkeeper so late in the season, let alone to a DP contract. Backe justified the move by saying that Rost would prove his value in organization and his ability to help arrange the backline, especially after a stretch in May and June where the team’s defense repeatedly broke down.
On Saturday night, a vocal Rost did just that as the Red Bulls effectively limited a potent FC Dallas. It was the first win by New York in more than two months and a crucial three points, keeping RBNY in the playoff hunt.
“He’s very loud in the goal, very, very loud,” Backe said. “Communicates with the back four, get them in the right position to do their job. He was massive this game.”
But for Rost, it was never about proving anything to himself or even his critics. He can point to a two-decade career in the Bundesliga and four caps with the national team to defend his résumé. He has played in the UEFA Champions League and remains the only goalkeeper to twice hoist the Emirates Cup, which the Red Bulls won this past August.
And fan criticism means little to Rost.
“I played 20 years in a high level and I want to bring the same performance here," he said. "I’m not interested in other guys talking. If they talk, they talk. I’m a good goalkeeper. I did this for 20 years in the highest level in Germany. What do you want?”
Kristian R. Dyer covers the Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com and can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer