For the New York Red Bulls, this match against LA Galaxy would be the pivotal point in their season, as a loss would have solidified their exit from making the playoffs. The hunger was evident, as RBNY came out looking like the team we once saw, in the beginning of the season. One that had seemed to disappear, but true to the MLS; the last placed, and perhaps wild card entry still has a solid chance of lifting the coveted MLS Cup.
Whether that was the drive behind the team’s performance, or not, RBNY came to the field looking for a win. Perhaps with many thanks to Hurricane Irene, which was the reason this much anticipated game had been rescheduled; LA Galaxy was sans striker Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, giving RBNY a slight upper hand.
Both Backe and Bruce Arena chose 4-4-2 formations. Backe went with his regular starting eleven; Rost as GK. Solli, Keel, Ream and Miller as the back four, while midfield saw the likes of Richards, Marquez (questionable move by some), Tainio and Lindpere, and the striking duo of Henry and Rodgers.
As the first half commenced, the crowd was louder than they had been in months, and the energy that filled RBA was indescribable. The crowd was on the edge of their seats as both teams were ferociously attacking; Richards with his first of many attempts during the game coming in the 5th minute. LA Galaxy fighting equally as hard, but it would be Rodgers that would find the net in the 32nd minute to put RBNY up by a goal. It came off of corner kick from Lindpere. Hopes were high; RBNY never loses when they score first.
Merely two minutes later, Rodgers was on the attack with a goal that was sure to go in….had there not been a side post. The first half would come to a close with RBNY leading first place Western Conference team, LA Galaxy.
Many would like to know what Backe said to the team at halftime, for when they emerged for the second half, they still had that fire burning inside of them, perhaps even more so than during the first half. The desire would push Henry to find the net in the 58th, and make it his 13th goal of the season; now tied with former RBNY player, Dwayne De Rosario for the “Golden Boot”.
Henry would suffer the same fate as Rodgers, and find the side post in the 80th, but it would not dampen the mood of the fans or the team, as RBNY clinched to their 2-0 lead to defeat LA Galaxy.
The story of the night had to be the “Triple Threat” seen in Rost, Rafa and Ream. For many, this match was titled “Rafa’s Redemption” as he came out looking to play, a desire in him that has been lacking for a while. He controlled the midfield, and fed the ball to Henry for the important second goal. It was clear that Henry had Rafa’s back, as he kept trying to find the Mexican national that has endured much scrutiny over the last few weeks. After Henry’s goal, he jogged over to Rafa and had him kiss the RBNY logo.
Rost seemed to have his best night as RBNY GK, making countless saves and shutting down any attempts made by the Galaxy. He had me worried for a minute when he started running out of the box, but talk about calm, cool and collected. More confident than ever.
Ream, the youngster who was recently attacked by Rafa stepped up to the plate, in a match that saw him defend in a way he hasn’t in months. Not taking away from any of the other defenders, but Ream seemed to be the reason that no ball would make it past the right flank.
Backe seemed beyond confident that the playoff race was not over, and even though it took this long for the team to play as a unit, in MLS, it would seem to be standard. Here is to hoping that RBNY can maintain their momentum, regardless of their eleven day break before their next match against Kansas City on October 15th.
For post game video interviews with Backe, Arena, Chad Barrett, Beckham, Rost and Henry check out http://www.youtube.com/user/sk8trgirl9?feature=mhee
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