Wednesday, October 26, 2011
GALAXY: Two dates with the Red Bulls
By Scott French
Thierry Henry celebrates his goal that closed out New York's win at Dallas on Wednesday and secured a playoff matchup against the Galaxy.
The Galaxy is New York-bound.
Well, New Jersey.
The New York Red Bulls' 2-0 triumph in a wild-card clash Wednesday night at FC Dallas sets up a major-market showdown, one Major League Soccer and television rights-holder ESPN will relish, for the first round of the league's playoffs.
The Galaxy (19-5-10), winner of the Supporters' Shield as Western Conference champion, will open its postseason campaign against New York on Sunday afternoon at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. Kickoff will be noon PT, and the game will be televised by ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.
The second leg will be next Thursday at Home Depot Center, with an 8 p.m. start. The team that scores the most goals over two games advances to the Nov. 6 Western Conference final.
Columbus plays Thursday night at Colorado in the second wild-card game, and the winner meets Eastern Conference winner Sporting Kansas City in a first-round opener Saturday.
The Red Bulls went 1-0-1 against the Galaxy this season, drawing in a sizzling encounter at Home Depot Center in May, then winning earlier this month in Harrison when the Galaxy, weary from a difficult month of MLS and CONCACAF Champions League action, used a reserve lineup filled with heavy legs.
Thierry Henry and Landon Donovan traded goals in the first meeting, a 1-1 draw; Henry and Luke Rodgers scored in the second, a 2-0 Red Bulls win.
“New York -- you can kind of put an asterisk next to those games,” left back Todd Dunivant said earlier Wednesday. “The first was a good game, probably one of the best games of the year in MLS, to be honest. And on the road we were exhausted.
“I don't think anyone fears New York, and we would love that [matchup], and I think the league would love that.”
The teams feature five Designated Players -- the Galaxy's Donovan, David Beckham and Robbie Keane, and New York's Henry and Rafa Marquez -- and the league's two highest payrolls, about $28 million between them.
“Henry is an obvious factor. He's an important part of their team,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, who coached the Red Bulls in 2006-07, said Wednesday. “The midfield has been good, with [Joel] Lindpere and [Teemu] Tainio and [Dane] Richards.”
Said Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza: “I think they're a pretty good team. They've been hot somewhat lately after a little dry streak. They have dangerous players at the back and the front and in midfield. They're a real good team, a veteran team, I would say, and they bring a lot of challenges for us, with speed and strength.”
The Red Bulls (10-8-16 in the regular season) started 4-1-7, then won just twice in 4½ months, missing sparkplug Rodgers through much of that span with plantar fasciitis. They're 5-2-1 since mid-September and have lost just three times since July 20. Wednesday's game was just the second they've won all season without Rodgers, who is nursing a knee injury, in the starting lineup.
“I think we had a really tough period,” Estonian winger Lindpere, who scored New York's goal Wednesday, said on Fox Soccer Channel's telecast. “We had many ties, not so much success, but the last seven, eight games we've proven we can [win] most of them, and now I guess we play Galaxy, and it's a great opportunity for both teams, so I think is going to be very interesting games.”
Lindpere provided a 61st-minute lead, slipping between two defenders to knock home a low cross into the goalmouth from Mehdi Ballouchy. Henry scored deep into stoppage with Dallas pushed forward in search of an equalizer.
Jan Gunnar Solli was sent off in the 79th minute after scissoring Daniel Hernandez at midfield and will miss the first leg, and that's not all. Rodgers' status is uncertain, and midfielder Dax McCarty -- older brother of Galaxy rookie Dustin McCarty -- sustained an apparent sprained ankle and could be missing, too.
Pizza Hut Park (Frisco, Texas)
FC Dallas 0, New York Red Bulls 2 NY -- Joel Lindpere (Mehdi Ballouchy) 61
NY -- Thierry Henry 98+
FC Dallas: Kevin Hartman; Zach Loyd, George John, Ugo Ihemelu, Jair Benitez; Marvin Chavez (Maicon Santos, 73), Andrew Jacobson (Daniel Cruz, 67), Daniel Hernandez, Brek Shea; Ricardo Villar (Fabian Castillo, 82), Jackson Goncalves.
New York Red Bulls: Frank Rost; Jan Gunnar Solli, Stephen Keel, Tim Ream, Roy Miller; Dax McCarty (Mehdi Ballouchy, 59), Rafa Marquez, Teemu Tainio, Joel Lindpere; Dane Richards (Carlos Mendes, 82), Thierry Henry.