HARRISON, N.J. – The final goal in the New York Red Bulls’ 4-0 rout of the Montreal Impact may not have meant much in the grand scheme of things on Saturday, but it did for the player who scored it.
After months of frustration, veteran forward Peguy Luyindula finally opened his MLS scoring account on Saturday night in the Red Bulls’ impressive dismantling of the Impact, who fell out of first place in the East after the result.
Luyindula tallied via an 88th-minute penalty kick when he fired a hard shot past Impact goalkeeper Troy Perkins, who guessed the correct direction but still could not manage to get a hand on the perfectly-placed ball. It was his first competitive goal since scoring in the Europa League for Paris St. Germain in early 2011.
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“It was a little weird for me. I’ve been waiting for that since a long time,” Luyindula told reporters after the game at Red Bull Arena. “After my late [arrival in preseason], my injuries, it feels good to be congratulated by some guys. There was some pressure, but it feels good because of what I was feeling when I wasn’t scoring.”
That he even had the opportunity to take the confidence-boosting penalty kick came as a surprise to Luyindula. The 34-year-old had come off the bench minutes earlier and fully expected star striker Thierry Henry to take the shot from 12 yards out.
Henry, however, made a classy gesture by handing the spot kick over to Luyindula, who turned to embrace his compatriot before celebrating the long-awaited goal with anyone else on the team.
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“It’s always better when you have a guy that can be free in his mind, not thinking about goals all the time,” Henry said. “I was happy that he scored. I think the whole squad, the whole stadium was happy that he scored.”
Luyindula will be looking to build on the confidence gained from his first goal on Tuesday when the Red Bulls host his former club, Olympique Lyon, in a friendly. But what if the Red Bulls earn a penalty kick then? Will Luyindula be the one to step up and take it?
“Yeah," Luyindula said with a smile. "Why not?”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by email at Franco8813@gmail.com.