HARRISON, N.J. – One down, several more to go.
The New York Red Bulls accomplished the first of their many goals for 2013 by reaching the postseason with a 2-2 draw against the New England Revolution at Red Bull Arena on Saturday night. The Red Bulls needed a dramatic goal from Tim Cahill at the death to do so after relinquishing what looked like a safe 1-0 lead late on.
The late chaos did lead to some mixed emotions in the locker room postgame, but overall New York was more happy than not with the end result.
“It’s a great moment right now for the organization,” said Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke, who let out giant sighs of relief before and after his postgame press conference. “It’s a good moment for me to take a deep breath finally, but this was our initial goal. Our initial goal was to make the playoffs and now our goals get recalculated.
”Guys get a couple days off because of our bye weekend next weekend and hopefully they are going to rest mentally and physically and we move on to our second goal.”
The Red Bulls’ second goal is to win the Supporters’ Shield. They are currently in a good position to do so considering they are still in first place in the overall MLS standings, but will still likely need to win their final two matches of the regular season and have other results go in their favor.
New York, however, would not be in such a situation if not for the resolve and character the team showed against New England. The Red Bulls saw their 1-0 lead turn into a 2-1 deficit in what seemed like a blink of an eye, as the Revolution were awarded a controversial penalty kick that Lee Nguyen converted before Diego Fagundez gave the visitors a go-ahead goal in the 91st minute.
Six minutes later, Cahill stepped up with the timeliest of goals to assure New York would be the first club assure its spot in the postseason.
“That was the aim at the beginning and obviously now we know we can go further than that,” said Red Bulls captain Thierry Henry. “Hopefully we’re going to perform well against Houston and Chicago in the last games, but I think we have to enjoy making the playoffs.
“It was kind of a long season – still not over, don’t get me wrong – but talking about the playoffs, we made it. The hard way tonight.”
One down, several more to go.
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by email at Franco8813@gmail.com.