It wasn't enough to break the decade-long winless streak at Gillette Stadium, but the New York Red Bulls will take it. A back-and-forth defensive game saw two goals traded inside one minute to give New York a point on the road, stretching their unbeaten run to five games.
Turf and injuries impact the lineup. Even under the best of circumstances, this match was never going to be played with New York's best eleven players on the field. Gillette Stadium's artificial playing surface once again was cause for Thierry Henry to not travel (he still has not played there since joining MLS), as well as defender Jamison Olave. The hamstring injury from Wednesday knocked out third choice striker Peguy Luyindula, giving Andre Akpan his first start, while Dax McCarty made the bench after his quad injury but did not feature.
The defense stands up, while the offense goes quiet. With Olave having been so good for the Red Bulls back line this season, concerns were raised when he was not found in the lineup—but a defense of Holgersson and Pearce in the center with Miller and Kimura out wide did strong work to keep New England's attack from getting many good chances off. But up front, the pairing of Fabian Espindola and Andre Akpan fizzled, with neither registering a single shot on target.
RBNY's quick response after falling behind. After a first half MSG's Steve Cangialosi described as being played "in mud", a goal finally came in the second half, with NE's Diego Fagundez blasting his own rebound to open the scoring. Heads could have gone down, but the Red Bulls marched right back downfield a minute later, with Akpan and Kimura springing midfielder Lloyd Sam for NY's only shot on target for the night. It was Sam's first goal since joining the league last year.
The curse of Foxboro endures. We can't have an New England away game without reflecting on New York's lack of fortune there, with the last win coming on June 29th, 2002. Saturday's match was the 20th try, and the only chance they will get this season barring a US Open Cup or playoff match. Maybe next year, boys.
The worst of the scheduling is done. We're still not sure why New York has played anywhere from one to four games more than every other team in Major League Soccer—but the schedule eases from here. The team can now look forward to one game a week until the end of the season, with 12 of the remaining 21 games at home. There's only one weekday league game left, a July 4th away game at Colorado, and one game on turf left, a September visit to Seattle. The team also now starts a three game home stand before getting their first bye week of the year.
Get out your monocles and top hats, it's time for the 1 Percent Derby! The two-time MLS Cup champion Los Angeles Galaxy come to town for their only meeting of the year. While David Beckham has since departed for the likes of Paris Saint Germain, LA still features a lot of quality. You've got Robbie Keane—well, actually, he's been injured, so he may not feature. But wait, Landon Donovan should be there!...although he's been out of form since his "sabbatical" and missing penalty kicks. Stars or not, NY-LA games always get a little extra hype as the two marquee teams in the league.
Coach Mike Petke on whether he's disappointed in the draw: "I’m very happy, of course. Like I said before, I’m not disappointed because we could have won the game tonight, and most coaches would be disappointed in that fact, but you know we haven’t won here in 11 years. We didn’t lose so a point on the road is very important and it’s really what at the end of the day it’s what you hope for. We could have taken three, but we’ll take one."
Midfielder Lloyd Sam on why the team is playing better on the road: "The manager wants us to all work hard and pitch in as a team and all know our role. That’s the main reason."
Andre Akpan on his first start: "It was great. Obviously, since this trade, I haven’t gotten a ton of time yet, so it was good to get on the field for 90 minutes. Real happy with the result. I think we probably could have snuck one in there and gotten the win, but we keep the undefeated streak going, so it was a good win."
Luis Robles on the lineup changes: "I think it just goes to show the depth we have, the type of personnel we have on our team. Because of what Mike is helping us learn in practice, it doesn't matter who subs in. Not only do we have the experience but the talent to remain solid."
Next Match: Sunday, May 19th 1:00 PM, home vs. LA Galaxy (TV: ESPN2)