With their last trip to Canada for 2012, the New York Red Bulls could've gone a perfect 3-for-3 against the Montreal Impact in 2012. A win would've given them some breathing room atop a tightening race in the Eastern Conference. But instead of a repeat of the 5-2 blowout or the tight 2-1 wins earlier this season, New York were outgunned, and were on the losing end of a 3-1 result at Stade Saputo.
The first half was scoreless thanks to a goalkeepers duel, as both NY's Bill Gaudette and Montreal's Donovan Ricketts came up big. (Rookie keeper Ryan Meara, while no longer injured, was on the bench for the match.) But at the start of the second half, Montreal cut up the Red Bulls back line for two goals in two minutes. Italian Marco Di Vaio finally got his first MLS goal since joining Montreal in June, breaking New York's two game shutout streak. Captain Davy Arnaud doubled the lead moments later when the offside flag didn't go up and he was able to beat Gaudette easily.
Thierry Henry (as usual!) lifted New York back into the game, pulling New York back to a one goal margin with a fine volley from inside the box. The visitors seemed re-energized and looked to be capable of at least pulling out a draw, but notorious Metro killer Sanna Nyassi came off the bench to knock in a third goal for the Impact. With just 15 minutes remaining, New York could not find a way back into the game.
It was a mixed bag of effort from New York. Thierry Henry's goal, Kenny Cooper's effort, and Bill Gaudette's first half were all laudable. But Jan Gunnar Solli, who returned to right back after weeks of injury, lost his man on both Di Vaio and Nyassi's goals. And Joel Lindpere, who has struggled to find consistency this season, had all of six forward passes as center attacking midfielder. It's hard to create service to the forwards when the midfield fails to show up.
While the Red Bulls (11-6-5, 38 points) keep their grasp on first place in the East, Houston and Kansas City both sit just a point behind. The Red Bulls return home for Tuesday night's friendly against Tottenham Hotspur, where Tim Cahill is probable for 45 minutes in what will be his debut for New York. Then, it's on to Texas, where Friday they will face a Dynamo side that is both undefeated at home and on a four-game win streak. New York will have to face the battle in "the Cauldron" without midfielder Dax McCarty, who picked an automatic one game suspension for his fifth yellow card.
Hans Backe: "We didn’t show up the first five minutes of the second half. You concede two goals on the road and you lose the game. Overall, it’s three terrible mistakes. You can’t concede goals like this. You lose games and it’s very disappointing."
Thierry Henry: "We are still eleven points ahead. But I think at the end of the day it’s good for us sometimes to get a little slap. They played way better than us."
Connor Lade: "Bad loss but we need to bounce back this week. Thanks to all the fans who made the trip up to support."
Dax McCarty: "Pissed about the game tonight, more pissed about having to miss a big 1 in Hou next week. Life goes on, trust the boys to take care of biz."
Next Match: Tuesday, July 31 7:00 PM, vs. Tottenham Hotspur (TV: ESPN2)