Winning ugly is still winning, right? The Red Bulls found their first road victory of 2014 on Sunday, overcoming a short-handed FC Dallas 1-0 thanks to a Bradley Wright-Phillips goal and Luis Robles making a critical stop on a penalty kick.
Cahill returns and takes one below the belt. In his first start back after a hamstring injury that saw him miss most of April, Tim Cahill resumed his position in central midfield. His welcome back gift: a 10th minute cleat to the groin, courtesy of Dallas midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson. While there didn't appear to be any intent, it was extremely reckless, and referee Edvin Jurisevic gave Watson a straight red card.
New York would have a man advantage for 80 minutes of play, so the remainder of the game should've been an easy win, right?
New York couldn't capitalize. Nothing is that easy! Despite the man advantage, and despite two of Dallas' best players being out (Mauro Diaz suffered a knee injury, and Michel was suspended), New York failed to do much of anything for a large chunk of the match. The weather didn't help things, with temperatures well over 90 and the field being overly dry.
Robles the hero in the face of another penalty kick. In the second half came the now traditional Weekly Red Bulls Defensive Miscue And Penalty Giveaway. This week's gift to the opposition came from Tim Cahill, who barreled over Danny Garcia in the box. It was the sixth penalty kick New York has given up in 10 games this season, making it almost certain they'll break the league record of 10.
But this time, after weeks of nearly keeping the spot kicks out, Luis Robles made the save. He denied Blas Perez what would've been the opening goal and kept New York in the match—as he seems to do every week without fail.
The Bradley Wright-Phillips and Thierry Henry partnership produces another goal. Fifteen minutes after the penalty, New York would find its breakthrough. A nice pass from Dax McCarty sent Thierry Henry through in the box, who unselfishly dished the ball to Wright-Phillips despite having a clear shot. The Englishman did not waste the chance, scoring his fifth goal in his last three matches.
Shep Messing said it best: it truly was "a world class moment in a mundane game." More importantly, it would be enough to see out the result.
The Chicago Fire will be next Saturday's opponent, and as the only remaining MLS team to not yet win a match in 2014, they'll be getting desperate. Chicago sacrificed a two-goal lead in the final moments on Saturday, losing 3-2 to Real Salt Lake; look for New York to try and extend their home unbeaten streak to 14 games. The two sides met earlier in the season but could only manage a 1-1 draw.
Coach Mike Petke on the conditions in Dallas: "Listen, my hats are off to my team as well as Dallas' team to have to go and play in the conditions we played in today. I'll be honest, I thought those days were behind us, of the league, playing at these certain games because of the TV schedule or something. I don't know what the reason was. That's a terrible environment to play in. It's unhealthy, it's unsafe...because of this weather, and the field, so hard and dry it was—we always knew it was going to be an ugly game. There were some decent things out there from both teams, but at the end of the day, we'll obviously take the win."
Luis Robles on the penalty save: "Ryan [Meara] and I were joking around before that if I just keep going one way, sooner or later I'll block one. So that was just kind of my strategy going into it. There were a couple things he did right before the PK that made me feel more confident. I felt that he tipped me to which side he was going to go. At the end of the day, it was what was necessary to get three points."
Thierry Henry on the performance: "I think today we didn't deserve to win. We won. Sometimes it's good to win games like that, but that's it. We won't think about it too much...we had to play better than what we did. A good win for us, but I don't think Dallas deserved to lose."
Next Match: Saturday, May 10th 7:00 PM, vs Chicago (TV: MSG)