New York Soccer: Ricardo Salazar

Rapid Reaction: Red Bulls 2, FC Dallas 0

October, 26, 2011
A second-half strike by Joel Lindpere helped a shorthanded Red Bulls side rise to the semifinal round of the 2011 MLS Playoffs following a 2-0 win over FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park on Wednesday evening.

Lindpere threaded the FCD back line near the penalty spot and converted a Mehdi Ballouchy cross in the 61st minute to net the game winner and lift the Red Bulls out of the Wild Card round and into a home-and-home series against the Supporters Shield winner, the Los Angeles Galaxy. Thierry Henry provided an insurance goal in stoppage time by tapping in a rebound from his own shot off FCD 'keeper Kevin Hartman in the 98th minute to seal the win for the visiting side.

Lindpere's goal also came about despite a shaky effort from a Red Bulls attacking corps that only controlled the run of play in fits and starts. New York registered six shots on target from 13 attempts against a relentless home side, with a Henry shot before halftime that sailed over the top crossbar representing the Red Bulls' best scoring chance preceding Lindpere's goal.

However, FC Dallas once again struggled to turn their many chances created into pressure on Red Bulls 'keeper Frank Rost. FCD created seven shots on target from 23 attempts with midfielders Brek Shea and Martin Chavez leading the way with three and five attempts respectively but only one shot on target between them. That duo fell behind FCD defender Jackson, who led the way with four of the club's seven shots on target and firing away from inside and outside the penalty area.

Play of the Game: Solli Sees Red. New York held on for the win, but they needed to do it a man down for the final 10 minutes courtesy of a red card awarded to right fullback Jan Gunnar Solli.

With Colombian defender Jair Benitez obstructing his run, Solli conceded a ball to FCD midfielder Daniel Cruz near the center circle in the 79th minute. In an attempt to make up for his own miscue, the Norwegian fullback immediately sprinted and dived from behind into Daniel Hernandez. Solli's slide brought Hernandez to the ground and brought the red card out of referee Ricardo Salazar's pocket.

It didn't affect the final result, but it left New York in danger of blowing the lead in the game's final moments just as they have so many times in their league-tying 16 draws during the 2011 regular season. It also triggers an automatic one-game suspension for Solli, who will now miss the first leg of the home-and-home series against the Galaxy and leave Red Bulls coach Hans Backe searching for his replacement on short notice.

Zero. That's how many goals Frank Rost allowed in collecting his first MLS postseason clean sheet and his sixth shutout of the season. Rost also earned his first career clean sheet in MLS play in the Red Bulls' 1-0 win at FC Dallas on September 17.

Free Falling. FC Dallas hoped to repeat the run that left them as the MLS Cup runners-up in 2010, but failed to find the form that kept them near the top of the table in the early goings of the 2011 regular season. FCD coach Schellas Hyndman saw his side sink to a 2-8 finish in all competition since losing to the Red Bulls in September.

Five for Fighting. Backe couldn't do much to counter having to play the final minutes of Wednesday's match with 10 men, but he did not leave himself with many options on his own bench. The Red Bulls coach picked five players -- Ballouchy, Juan Agudelo, Stephane Auvray, Carlos Mendes, and reserve 'keeper Bouna Coundoul -- to ride the pine in Dallas and see their teammates advance to victory.

Backe indicated to's Jason Saghini before the match that he may intend to put fresh legs on the field in next weekend's match against the Galaxy. But how many of them would come from the Red Bulls reserves that didn't make the trip to Dallas?

As the lowest living seed in the MLS Playoffs, New York's playoff path will run through Red Bull Arena next Sunday (3 p.m. ET, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPN Deportes) but against a star-studded Los Angeles Galaxy side that will be a lot healthier than the club's prior visit to Harrison earlier this month.

Rapid Reaction: Sounders 4, Red Bulls 2

June, 24, 2011
It rains a great deal in Seattle, but only the Red Bulls ended up wet this time around.

Sounders sub Roger Levesque earned a second-half brace to answer an own goal by Zach Scott as Seattle laid claim to a 4-2 victory over a depleted New York side at the newly-renamed CenturyLink Field on Thursday. A faulty back line and static Greg Sutton enabled Seattle midfielders Eric Friberg and Osvaldo Alonso to convert two early set pieces into goals, while Dane Richards declared his Red Bulls return from the Gold Cup by scoring his third goal of the season.

The loss leaves New York tied with the Philadelphia Union atop the Eastern Conference at 23 points apiece, with Philly (6-4-5) coming in one win better than the Red Bulls (5-3-8).

Play of the Game: Montero's Bump on Sutton. Seattle found itself with a corner kick mere moments after Friberg opened scoring. Mauro Rosales directed a ball in the box to the right side of the spot, which enticed Sutton to charge through the sea of bodies crowding the area and towards the ball's landing spot.

Sutton, however, forgot to watch his step as he bumped into Freddy Montero en route to the ball. The bump rattled the Canadian 'keeper, who expected a foul. Instead of picking up the ball to close out the angles, Sutton stayed in place as Alonso swung a low shot from the right of the arc through the crowded penalty area and past a helpless Sutton.

While New York's set piece inability to defend against set pieces was front and center, Sutton's shortcomings were equally on display. He displayed limited range and found himself constantly struggling to get in the right position to block the Seattle attack. He struggled to handle a pass from his own defender that he lost moments later to Levesque, who scrambled past him for his second goal of the game.

Mama said there'd be games like this, but one wonders if Red Bulls coach Hans Backe will finally call upon Bouna Coundoul to give Sutton a much-needed break.

Stuck in the Middle. While the numbers reflect a 63%-to-37% edge in possession for the Red Bulls, that gap is largely attributed to New York finding itself with the ball in its own defensive end. The Seattle midfield of Alonso, Friberg, Rosales, and Alonso frustrated the patchwork Red Bulls attack all evening by cutting off passing lanes and preventing anyone from providing service to Richards and Dwayne De Rosario up top. New York found itself with only three of its 13 shots on target, and Seattle did not allow any of those shots to morph into a more potent attack.

Backing Down. With the Gold Cup final involving the United States and Mexico on Saturday, the Red Bulls will need to fare without Rafael Marquez and Tim Ream for a bit longer.

Whether they'll make it that far is another question. Stephen Keel and Carlos Mendes filled in for the Gold Cup duo again at Seattle, and again found themselves constantly rattled by the potent attack and the antagonistic atmosphere. Keel struggled to mark his man on the early Alonso and Friberg goals, and keeps showing up in the wrong spot when Seattle was at its best. Roy Miller also found himself getting beat with regularity out on the left flank, but what can he do when there's no one capable of getting his back?

What Went Right. Excluded from the deficiencies found in the back line and midfield is right back Jan Gunnar Solli, who reminded onlookers of his speed and creativity pushing the ball up a right flank that Seattle defended with spare parts.

Solli's night culminated with his work to obtain New York's second goal of the night. He picked up a long lob pass from De Rosario and rushed it clear down the right flank to the end line. After executing a nutmeg through defender Leonardo Gonzalez before taking a strong shot from the right of the penalty area that deflected off Scott in front of the six-yard-box and redirected into the net for the equalizer.

New York couldn't make Solli's strike stand up, but the Norwegian raised his game in a match where so many fell to lower levels.

Minus Three. That's the penalty differential between the 11 fouls called on New York versus eight for Seattle. Both sides finished level with yellow cards at three apiece. In an interesting note, Michael Kennedy served as the match referee on Thursday, four days after clarifying the red card assessed to Thierry Henry by Ricardo Salazar on behalf of U.S. Soccer. Coincidence?

There is no rest for the Red Bulls as they leave the left coast to face the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park for a matinee on Sunday (2 p.m. ET, ESPN, ESPN3, ESPN Deportes).

Rapid Reaction: Timbers 3, Red Bulls 3

June, 20, 2011
When New York claims to fight, scratch, and claw for every point, they mean it.

The scoring came fast and furious in a turbulent tilt at the cozy confines of Jeld-Wen Field on Sunday evening as the Red Bulls escaped with a 3-3 draw over the expansion Portland Timbers. Moments after Thierry Henry received a straight red card for a bad foul, Dwayne De Rosario scored a penalty kick in stoppage time to salvage the draw for a Red Bulls side that was moments away from seeing an own goal by defender Stephen Keel prove to be the game winner.

Austin da Luz converted a De Rosario cross five minutes in for his first career MLS goal, but the Timbers answered back with successive strikes by Jack Jewsbury and Kevin Goldthwaite that came about three and four minutes after halftime. Following Keel's gaffe, Henry delivered a goal from the left tip of the six-yard box to draw NY within one.

The draw gives New York a one-point edge over the Philadelphia Union atop the Eastern Conference with 23 points and a 5-2-8 record along with a six-game unbeaten streak.

Seeing Red. In a match that saw New York collect 25 fouls and five cards compared to Portland's five and two respectively, the coup de grace came in stoppage time as referee Ricardo Salazar issued a straight red card to Henry for slapping Adam Moffat in the back of the head during a verbal altercation. That disqualifies Henry from participating in their next match against Seattle on Thursday, and leaves Red Bulls coach Hans Backe with a gaping hole leading his side's attack.

New York kicked things off in the Rose City with bad news up top. Forward Luke Rodgers did not travel with the club to Portland and is expected to miss at least Thursday's match against the Sounders due to plantar faciitis. Also, a United States win over Jamaica in the Gold Cup quarterfinals means Juan Agudelo remains out of the Red Bulls' picture indefinitely.

The return of De Rosario -- who started alongside Henry at forward -- eased New York's depth problems on Sunday, but Backe will need to uncover creative solutions with the cavalry so far from shouting distance.

Play of the Game: Jewsbury's Goal. Portland did not register an attempt on goal until the 45' minute when Jewsbury headed a Kenny Cooper cross high and wide left of the net. Portland kept the passing pace with the surgical Red Bulls attack, but they simply could not create any kind of offensive pressure in the final third before halftime.

Jewsbury changed all that three minutes into the second half. The Timbers captain picked up Jan Gunnar Solli's poorly-directed header to the right of the arc and fired a low shot through traffic that wound up inside the far post. In addition to drawing the Timbers level with NY, it sparked the dormant Timbers Army into reminding the Red Bulls why Jeld-Wen Field can be such a tough place to play.

Keeling Over. Any chance for a Red Bulls comeback appeared slim when Jorge Perlaza directed a cross though the box in the 67' minute. A sprinting Stephen Keel looked to obstruct Perlaza's cross, but accidentally directed it into the wrong net for an own goal. It didn't help that Roy Miller was out of position on the play, either.

No part of the Red Bulls fell apart so completely after Jewsbury's goal as the back line did. Keel's misdirection merely added the exclamation point to it.

Fighting Spirit. Thierry Henry stopped the Timbers onslaught in the 73' minute with his league-leading eighth-goal of the season. Henry then followed Joel Lindpere into the net to retrieve the ball and rush it back to the center circle, only to incite a fracas with Timbers players who took offense to being shown up on their own pitch.

Even with the floodgates open, post-goal antics by Lindpere and Henry should remind the Red Bulls supporters that their club refused to go down without a fight.

Spot Check. The 2011 MLS season has seen six penalty kicks awarded -- with the Red Bulls being involved in all six. They missed two chances before De Ro's goal and saved three, which includes a Jack Jewsbury PK that bounced off the right post late in the second half.

The Red Bulls will remain out west for the time being as they prepare for Thursday's match against the Seattle Sounders at Qwest Field. First kick is scheduled for 10:00 p.m.