HARRISON, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls crossed reaching the playoffs off their to-do list on Saturday evening, and they did so in the most dramatic of fashions.
Tim Cahill scored a header at the death to give the New York Red Bulls a 2-2 draw against a 10-man New England Revolution side that looked to have stolen a result on Saturday night. New England scored twice in a wild final eight minutes of regulation, including on a controversial penalty kick, but Cahill came through for the second straight week with a timely goal.
The result not only punched New York's ticket to the playoffs, it also kept them in first place in the overall MLS standings. New England, meanwhile, are in seventh place and just three points out of a playoff spot in the tight Eastern Conference.
The Red Bulls dominated much of the match and looked to be cruising to a 1-0 victory after Fabián Espíndola netted in the first half, but the Revolution got a lifeline late when referee Fotis Bazakos whistled Jámison Olave for a handball in the penalty area even as replays showed that the center back made contact with his shoulder.
Lee Nguyen stepped up and converted the ensuing spot kick to pull the Revolution level, but things took a turn for the worse for the visitors moments later when Andy Dorman was sent off with a straight red card.
While that looked to have ruined any chance the Revolution had of grabbing a late victory, Diego Fagundez had other ideas. One minute into stoppage time, the 18-year-old attacker slipped a shot underneath Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles for his 12th goal of the season after David Carney lost a ball in New York’s own half.
The Red Bulls didn't give up there, though. They threw numbers forward in search of an equalizer and got it as Cahill sent a looping header over a stranded Matt Reis on a final play of the game, a recycled corner kick, sending Red Bull Arena into complete pandemonium.
It was a bitter blow for Reis – who made two spectacular stops on Thierry Henry earlier in the game – and the Revs, who faced an 11-v-9 situation on the play with Dorman's ejection and Andrew Farrell off the field receiving treatment for an injury.
The Revolution next take to the road to face the Montreal Impact at Stade Saputo on Oct. 12. The Red Bulls have a bye week before returning to action with a road game against the Houston Dynamo on Oct. 20.
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||Tim Cahill||Has clearly emerged as the leader of this Red Bulls team. Drove the team forward offensively all night and came through with the dramatic equalizer|
|2||Fabián Espíndola||A typically industrious shift for the Argentine, who netted a rare right-footed goal and nearly made it 2-0 when his header hit the post not long after|
|3||Matt Reis||Kept New England in it with two superb stops on Thierry Henry in the second half. Unfortunate to concede the equalizer, with New England facing a two-man disadvantage|