New York Red Bulls feel hard done by after controversial penalty sees them settle for draw

The New York Red Bulls overcame an early letdown, earned a valuable point on the road and kept their unbeaten run going.

They still were not happy about how things played out.

The Red Bulls played to a 2-2 draw against the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium on Friday night, but New York felt a bit hard done by, given that they settled for a point after seeing a late controversial penalty kick call go against them. Rookie right back Chris Duvall was whistled for a handball in the second half after New York had erased a 42-second goal from Giles Barnes and taken a 2-1 lead, but replays appeared to show that Duvall used his shoulder to push the ball forward while attempting a clearance.

Despite the Red Bulls’ stern protests, referee Ismail Elfath pointed the spot and Brad Davis converted the ensuing penalty kick in the 82nd minute to ensure that the Red Bulls would not leave Houston with all three points.

“I feel that we lost two points tonight,” said head coach Mike Petke. “It wasn’t a handball from what I saw, from what I was told from my player, from what the players surrounding him said. I feel like the ref handed that to them. Aside from that, it was a hard-fought point and we’ll take it.”

They will take the point because it extends their undefeated streak to four games and keeps them in the final playoff position in the Eastern Conference, but the Red Bulls would be sitting prettier had the penalty kick not been awarded. That’s a bit of a tough blow considering that New York are fighting hard to remain in the postseason after an inconsistent start to the year.

“There was a question on the handball whether it was a handball and of course that’s a deflating situation when the guys have worked so hard and then the referee is the one that makes the decision on the outcome of the game,” said goalkeeper Luis Robles. “ … It’s just tough because on the road normally you’d say that a point is a good, the result is good. But in this situation we felt like not only was it taken out of our hands but we kind of let up a bit.”

The Red Bulls did show some good things in the 4th of July match, including fighting back from an early deficit in a tough road venue and keeping Bradley Wright-Phillips’ scoring tear going with a brace. But it was all overshadowed by the late controversial call on Duvall, which was a bitter pill for the club to swallow on a night when it seemed like they were destined to head home with a victory.

“The thing is we’re winning the game, we’re cruising,” said midfielder Tim Cahill. “If it wasn’t a penalty then it’s very harsh for us and it’s hard to take.”

Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for He can be reached by email at

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