October 26, the unpredictable New York Red Bulls kicked off the MLS playoffs with a 2-0 win over FC Dallas in the first Wild Card match-up. Consequently, this Saturday at 3 p.m., the Red Bulls will host the starlit LA Galaxy at Red Bull Arena in the first of a home-and-home series in one of the two Western Conference semifinals, which leaves broadcasters and MLS executives salivating over TV ratings.
“We went down to the wire to make the playoffs,” said NYRB coach Hans Backe. “After beating Philadelphia, I felt our last two sessions that this was a relaxed team, a calm team, probably the two best sessions we have had all season. We are close to our peak at the right time.”
Red Bulls start slow, finish strong
From the whistle, the Red Bulls were handicapped by the absence of Luke Rodgers, out to injury, but FC Dallas were similarly restricted by the loss of 2010 MLS MVP David Ferreira, who has yet to return to action after a bone-crushing injury in the spring.
FC Dallas started brightly, quick to the ball and held the majority of possession throughout the first half. Designated player Thierry Henry appeared off his game, missing interceptions and making wayward passes, but played a more dominant role as the game progressed. NYRB’s midfielder Dax McCarty’s luck pulled up lame early in the second half and was replaced by Mehdi Ballouchy in the 59th minute, which marked the turning point of the game.
Two minutes later, Joel Lindpere started and finished an attacking sequence with Ballouchy and Dane Richards, which put New York up 1-0 and took the wind out of FCD’s sails. In the 79th minute, Jan Gunnar Solli was ejected for studs-up tackle from behind on Daniel Hernandez, which gave Dallas the man advantage and another breath of life. Despite valiant efforts by Brek Shea, Dallas failed to capitalize on the advantage and lost their form after Zach Lloyd was stretchered off the field following a collision in an aerial challenge. Henry put the icing on the cake for New York with an individual breakaway and unassisted goal in injury time for the final 2-0 result.
Right back Solli will not be available for the October 30 match versus the Galaxy due to the red card suspension. The second leg of that series will take place on November 3 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
Click here for a photo gallery of the game.
FOLLOW US SOCCER EXAMINER AND LE EISENMENGER ON TWITTER AND SUBCRIBE TO EMAIL ALERTS.
NY — Joel Lindpere 1 (Mehdi Ballouchy 1) 61
NY — Thierry Henry 1 (unassisted) 98+
New York Red Bulls — Frank Rost, Solli Jan Gunnar, Stephen Keel, Tim Ream, Roy Miller, Dax McCarty (Mehdi Ballouchy 59), Teemu Tainio, Rafael Marquez, Joel Lindpere, Dane Richards (Carloa Mendes 82), Thierry Henry.
Substitutes Not Used: Stephane Auvray, Juan Agudelo, Bouna Coundoul.
FC Dallas — Kevin Hartman, Ugo Ihemelu, Zach Loyd, Daniel Hernandez, George John, Jair Benitez, Marvin Chavez (Maicon Santos 73), Ricardo Villar (Fabian Castillo 82), Andrew Jacobson (Danny Cruz 67), Brek Shea, Jackson Goncalves.
Substitutes Not Used: Jeremy Hall, Jack Stewart, Bobby Warshaw, Chris Seitz.
NY — Tim Ream (caution; Tactical Foul) 27
DAL — Ugo Ihemelu (caution; Reckless Tackle) 31
DAL — Daniel Hernandez (caution; Reckless Tackle) 51
NY — Solli Jan Gunnar (ejection; Serious Foul Play) 79
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Referee’s Assistants: -Craig Lowry; Peter Manikowski
4th Official: Edvin Jurisevic
Time of Game: 1:57