HARRISON, N.J. – Pablo Mastroeni opened his coaching career on a positive note after guiding his Colorado Rapids to a 1-1 draw away to the New York Red Bulls in front of 20,542 at Red Bull Arena on Saturday.
It came with a bit of a controversy, after Colorado were awarded a questionable 73rd-minute penalty after center back Jamison Olave was whistled for a foul on Marvin Chavez, but it was nothing more than the battling Rapids deserved on the day.
Instead, the result leaves the Red Bulls (0-1-1) still searching for their first win of the season, and gives Mastroeni and the Rapids (0-0-1) something to cheer about ahead of their own home opener next weekend.
The first half saw both teams exchange a number of chances. The Red Bulls opened the match with a flurry of opportunities, but the Rapids’ defense held up well and that allowed Colorado to settle into the match and create some scoring chances themselves, including a Nick LaBrocca effort from distance that forced a full-stretch block from goalkeeper Luis Robles.
Henry then put the Red Bulls in front in the 57th minute. Lloyd Sam's cross from the right pulled Rapids right back Shane O’Neill into the middle to cover Tim Cahill, allowing an unmarked Henry to float to the back post. The Frenchman finished the play with a diving header that beat rookie goalkeeper John Berner -- in for injured starting goalkeeper Clint Irwin -- from close range. The goal put Henry in sole possession of second place in the club’s scoring history with 42, behind only Juan Pablo Angel (58 goals).
The Rapids, who outshot the Red Bulls 18-11, including 6-2 in shots on goal, stayed in the match, and their Mastroeni-like determination opened the door for their controversial equalizer.
Fifteeen minutes after going down, Colorado mounted an attack down the right side through Sanchez, who subbed on for an Dillon Powers in the 65th minute. Sanchez's little chip found Chavez in the area, where he was knocked down by Olave, who appeared only to be standing his ground as Chavez backed into him. Regardless, referee Alan Kelly adjudged Olave to have fouled Chavez and pointed to the spot. Sanchez buried the penalty.
In the dying moments, both sides had a number of late chances as they looked for a winner, most notably when Peguy Luyindula redirected an Henry freekick across the front of goal, but no one was able to knock the cross home, and the match finished all square.
The Red Bulls return to action on March 23 with a visit to Toyota Park to take on the Chicago Fire. The Rapids, meanwhile, will hold their 2014 home opener vs. the Portland Timbers on March 22.
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||Thierry Henry||The big man thumped home a tidy finish and also served up a litany of dangerous set-piece deliveries..|
|2||Luis Robles||Kept his focus despite long stretches of RBNY possession, making a few important saves. Blameless on Sanchez's goal.|
Covered acres, fought the midfield battles and looked comfortable in a deeper midfield role than last season.