It was a night much anticipated by RBNY fans; a clash with FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park for a spot in the semifinals, and a chance to remain on in the quest to raise the coveted MLS Cup. RBNY fans packed into the “Football Factory” at Legends in NYC at an event aptly named “Occupy Legends.” About 600 fans came out for the match, with the Red Bull street team entertaining passersby. The stage was set, but the question remained; could RBNY pull off a crucial win?
To most fans, optimism reigned supreme, and there was no doubt amongst the loyal Red Bull fans that their “boys in white” could not pull of a victory against FC Dallas. As the lineup was announced, there were no surprises to the starting eleven, but with Rodgers ruled out, Backe opted to play Richards up front with Henry, and fans were quite content with this decision following Dane’s debut as a striker last week.
The first half saw FC Dallas fight, clearly the more dominant team, for the first thirty minutes that was. After that, they just seemed tired, aimlessly flailing about. The first half was a mediocre game at best; one can say without hesitation that it certainly didn’t seem like either of the two teams were playing for a spot in the semifinals.
Halftime, still scoreless in Dallas, but as RBNY entered the field for the 2nd half, they knew that they needed to step up the intensity. Perhaps one of the most underrated RBNY players, Medhi Ballouchy would be the man that set the wheels in motion. In the 59th minute, Backe opted to take Mccarty off the field, and selected the Moroccan midfielder; it was a wise decision by Backe as merely two minutes later, Ballouchy would feed the ball to Lindpere, who found the net in the 61st minute. It would be his 2nd Career MLS Cup Playoff Goal, and one that will not be forgotten by any RBNY fan for a while to come.
Following the goal, tensions rose as FC Dallas tried to get on the scoreboard, and with a red card issued to Solli in the 79th for a tackle on Hernandez, FC Dallas had the upper hand. RBNY reduced to ten men, yet Dallas could not seem to break through the defense, and especially Tim Ream, who played one of his best games of the season, repeatedly shutting down any attempt. Chants in the Football Factory included the classic; “You got REAM-ED”; he was certainly a hot topic last night, as the Independent reported that RBNY turned down a $4 million offer from Arsenal for the young defender.
Stoppage time would be six minutes- the longest six minutes for RBNY and all the fans; but as Thierry Henry found the net in the 97th on a breakaway run, wherein he passed both Hernandez and Hartman to find the net, he shut down any last glimmer of hope that FC Dallas had. The final whistle blew, and madness ensued as the fans started chanting; “We want the Cup, got to have that Cup.”
Technically, it may not have been the best game by either side, but to fans that did not seem to matter; RBNY had clinched a spot in the semifinals, and are set to face LA Galaxy in the next round at Red Bull Arena on Sunday at 3pm.
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