Tim Cahill may have scored it, but Dax McCarty’s audible was equally important in seeing the New York Red Bulls score the fastest goal in MLS history.
It took Cahill all of eight seconds after referee Hilario Grajeda blew the opening whistle to find the back of the net with a perfect strike that stunned the Houston Dynamo and set the tone for a 3-0 New York win. Cahill displayed some individual brilliance on the play, jumping to chest McCarty’s floating pass out of the air before hitting a bending and dipping half-volley, but McCarty’s split-decision-making immediately after kickoff also proved vital on a sequence that helped move RBNY a victory away from their first-ever trophy.
“It was funny because we have worked on that in practice a couple of times, but the play is actually that the guys drop the ball back to me and I kind of just take a touch and lay it off to Ibrahim Sekagya and he’s the one that plays the long ball,” McCarty told reporters about the play. “I couldn’t really get the message back to him quick enough and the kickoff happened and I kind of just had to make a quick decision and so I just kind of closed my eyes and booted it.
“Tim Cahill did the rest. What can you say? What a finish.”
The implications of Cahill’s strike and the near-complete performance that followed were huge. It helped set the tone for a New York team whose starting lineup had been heavily altered due to injuries, extend the club’s current unbeaten streak to seven games, and pushed New York back into first place in the Supporters’ Shield table with one match remaining in the regular season.
“It means a lot,” said Cahill. “We were controlling our own destiny today before the game. It’s there for us to take and for us to throw away.”
And now that they haven’t tossed it away, next weekend becomes that much bigger. Cahill is ready to embrace the opportunity yet again: “It’s a big moment for us… to be in this situation.”
The Red Bulls find themselves in this envious position partly because of the manner in which they have picked up results on the road. Sunday’s victory over the Dynamo was New York’s second this year in Houston, where the club had been winless in regular season play prior to September’s 4-1 triumph.
“We’ve done a lot with trying to reboot the mentality of this organization and this team and this is one of the places that we concentrated on because we have not been successful here,” said head coach Mike Petke. “A lot of that has to do with our mentality, but probably more has to do with how good Houston is and how good they’ve always been and how prepared [head coach Dominic Kinnear] gets the team.
“We’re fortunate these last two games to get good results through hard work and character.”
And an eight-second goal, too.
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by email at Franco8813@gmail.com.