After a week full of distractions, the Red Bulls started their three game October home stand taking care of business at home. A lone Thierry Henry goal was the difference maker, allowing New York to deal a serious blow to Houston's post-season hopes.

FULL HIGHLIGHTS

MATCH NOTES

First half: lots of attack with nothing to show. An early goal would not come, as the combination of Houston defending, blown chances from New York's attackers, and hitting the woodwork would keep the score sheet 0-0 for the first half. Bradley Wright-Phillips continued his fight to claim the league's goalscoring record, but of his seven attempts, only one was on target.

Richard Eckersley came in from the cold. "It’s soccer, you’ve got to deal with and take the rough with the smooth and it makes you a better player, a better person as well because you’ve had to come back from a setback."

So reflected Richard Eckersley, the English right-back who hadn't started for New York since the end of March. Largely out of favor, Eckersley was called into play because of what coach Mike Petke described as a mutual decision that rookie Chris Duvall needed a break "both mentally and physically". And despite widespread doubts, "Ecks" played a strong game, providing fine defending and helping to bomb forward to contribute to the attack.

Teammate Dax McCarty heaped kudos on his mentality after the match: "He came into the team, he’s been patient and I thought he played with a real positive attacking intent and I thought he tried to link up and play forward. When you’re out of the team for that long it can get tough, it can get mentally frustrating and I know he was frustrated but the opportunity presented itself and I think he deserved the opportunity and that’s what staying patient is all about."

Henry broke the stalemate and continued his strong season. The goal came shortly after the second half kickoff. Eckersley fed a ball forward to Lloyd Sam, who streaked down the right wing and worked into the box. A low cross was converged on by BWP and two Houston players, and rebounded right into the path of Thierry Henry, who cooly finished the ball.

Henry is now on double digits for both goals (10) and assists (13) in 2014. The rumor mill regarding his much-speculated retirement took a strange turn on Saturday morning as Red Bull Global Director of Football Gerard Houllier walked back his comments claiming he was leaving, with the same report indicating a one-year extension may be in the works.

Tim Cahill's situation gets weirder. If there was one narrative that wouldn't die, it's the strange situation with Tim Cahill. It appeared that Cahill might be benched for Saturday's game, and his strongly worded comments to the media about playing for his country being a top priority caused chattered that he might be benched for accepting a call-up next week, in the middle of the playoff push.

Cahill was benched, but Petke lambasted the suggestion it was related to the call-up. "To suggest that a player was not in the lineup because of an international call-up is both ridiculous and laughable. We had four games left, three now, that are huge. To suggest that we would leave a player who we think could help us out because he’s going to the national team…We’re proud of him, we’re proud of Roy [Miller], we’re proud of [Ambroise] Oyongo for going to the national team."

So then why would the high-priced Australian attacker start the game on the bench? Again, we go to Petke: "The selection process for tonight’s game went as this: I wanted to put the 11 players out that I felt could get us a result and we got a result."

So while Petke did not feel Cahill could get the team a result, he did call on him late in the game. Cahill subbed in for a cramped-up Eric Alexander in the 85th minute. Three minutes later, Cahill went in hard on a challenge on Houston's Boniek García, and referee Jair Maruffo showed a straight red card.

Perhaps the entire situation over the past few days had impacted Cahill's mentality and lead to a stupid challenge. Perhaps he was fully in control and just had bad luck with his typically physical play. Either way, it doesn't help his case with the team: Cahill can't serve his mandatory suspension while on international duty next week, so he will miss both of the remaining home games in the RBNY regular season.

LOOKING AHEAD

Michael Bradley, Jermain Defoe, and the rest of Toronto FC return to town hungry for a victory. Toronto fell 3-0 to the rampant Los Angeles Galaxy last night, in a match coach Greg Vanney said "wasn't a must-win". Rest assured their game against the Red Bulls will be: Toronto sits three points below the red line. Toronto has the upper hand in the series this year, winning at home in May and forcing a road draw in June. It's certainly must-win for New York: a full three points will cement their playoff hopes, and almost completely shut Toronto out of the playoffs for the eighth time in their eight year history.

Next Match: Saturday, October 11th 7:00 PM, vs. Toronto (TV: MSG)