The New York Red Bulls could have been worried about their inability to win after yet another draw. They could have been worried about falling out of a playoff spot.
Could have been, but weren’t.
The Red Bulls played to their 10th draw of the season on Wednesday night, star striker Theirry Henry scoring a perfect goal to give New York a split of the points in a 1-1 affair against Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium. The result dropped the Red Bulls out of a postseason position and into sixth place in the Eastern Conference, but the mood afterward was far from being one of distress.
“We’re close to the point in the season when you’re going to stop saying a point is good on the road, but tonight it’s a good point,” said Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke. “We haven’t won here since 2008, and I think the guys did enough to win tonight, but we’ll take a point.”
New York had not only failed to win at Rio Tinto Stadium since 2008, they had failed to score. The Eastern Conference side had been blanked by a combined score of 8-0 in their last four matches in Sandy, Utah, and appeared headed for a fifth shutout loss until Henry found the back of the net in the 57th minute.
The Frenchman’s finish from outside the penalty area was technical perfection, Henry using something he noticed in a flash to his advantage before negating the hosts’ opener by opening his hips and hitting a low strike that nestled into the far corner.
“I saw that Nick Rimando couldn’t see where the ball was and I just finished it,” said the Red Bulls captain of his fifth goal of the season. “Great work, great awareness from Tim Cahill and I just had to finish it. Overall, I thought that Real Salt Lake played really well. We came back to the game – it wasn’t one of our best games, if I can say – but sometimes you have to get some result like that away from home, especially in a place like Salt Lake.
“Usually we come here and we lose. It’s a draw. We’re not extremely happy with it but sometimes you have to save something out of a game and we did that tonight.”
While a point away to RSL is nothing to sneeze at, the Red Bulls now head back home for a Saturday showdown against the New England Revolution. The match is not a must-win by any stretch of the imagination, but New York could sure use three points after recording just five wins through their first 21 matches of the season – and only two in their last 11.
“We’ve got some tired guys. Obviously, we’re in altitude here in Salt Lake and Salt Lake is a good team that gets the ball moving and gets you moving,” said Petke. “Guys are a bit hurting right now, a little sore, so we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see how the guys are responding and we have a big game this weekend.”