HARRISON, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls are beginning to make a habit out of late-game heroics.
For the second straight week, the Red Bulls scored in the dying moments of a match, and this time it led to a 2-2 draw with the Columbus Crew at Red Bull Arena on Sunday. New York fell behind twice in the match, including early on, but Jámison Olave scored in second-half stoppage time to save them from defeat in a controversial finish.
Columbus had taken the lead 20 minutes earlier on a contentious penalty call when Justin Meram went down in the box from contact with New York defender Kosuke Kimura after putting an errant shot out of play.
But Olave's equalizer rescued the Red Bulls' unbeaten run, which now stands at seven games and keeps them in first place in the Eastern Conference with a 7-4-4 record. The 4-4-4 Crew, meanwhile, missed a chance to overtake Philadelphia for fifth place in the East.
Columbus got off to the best start imaginable, taking the lead just two minutes in when Dominic Oduro managed to weave his way in between the Red Bulls defense before slotting a shot past goalkeeper Luis Robles. The Ghanaian speedster, however, suffered a knock on the play and had to be replaced by Aaron Schoenfeld six minutes later.
While the goal put them in a hole, the Red Bulls came up with an impressive response. The hosts dominated possession for large stretches and looked the more threatening side and that resulted in them finding an equalizer just after the half-hour mark.
Tim Cahill hit a ball over the top from inside his own half that fell to Thierry Henry, who proceeded to lofting a beautiful shot over Crew netminder Andy Gruenebaum. The 31st-minute goal was Henry’s sixth of the season and third in his last three games.
The two teams exchanged some half-chances in the early going of the closing 45 minutes, but the big talking point came in the 73rd minute. Red Bulls right back Kosuke Kimura was whistled for a controversial foul on Crew forward Justin Meram inside the penalty area, and Federico Higuaín stepped up to take it in a situation similar to that of the two team’s first meeting of the season earlier this month.
Unlike their previous meeting, however, Higuaín was able to beat Robles on the spot kick, shooting down the middle as the Red Bulls 'keeper dove to his own right to give Columbus their second lead of the day.
In search of the equalizer that would extend their unbeaten run, New York frantically threw numbers forward. Second-half sub Juninho had a chance in the 83rd minute that was saved by Gruenebaum and an effort from Olave was cleared off the goal line by Kevan George three minutes later.
Olave would not be denied again. In the second minute of stoppage time, Jonny Steele's cross fell to the Colombian center back and he calmly brought it down with his right before smashing it into the back of the net with his left to complete New York’s second rally.
The Red Bulls nearly snatched all three points shortly after, but a goal-mouth scramble resulted in Columbus clearing the ball away before anyone could put a shot on frame.
Both teams now switch gears towards their first US Open Cup matches of the year. The Red Bulls host Reading United of the USL PDL on Wednesday while the Crew get a visit from the Dayton Dutch Lions of the USL PRO. The two MLS clubs will then return to league play on June 1, with New York hosting Vancouver and Columbus hosting Houston.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Jámison Olave (NY)||After gifting Oduro's opener, big man settled and dominated; oh yeah, that late equalizer wasn't bad.|
|2||Federico Higuaín (CLB)||Wasn't going to miss a second time against Robles, was he? Willed Columbus to a near three points.|
|3||Tim Cahill (NY)||Stole late winner from Henry, but sublime ball on Frenchman's goal is an Assist of the Year candidate.|