New York Soccer: set piece

W2W4: NY Red Bulls at Chicago Fire

June, 26, 2011
6/26/11
11:46
AM ET
The New York Red Bulls wind down their three-game road trip in the Prairie State as they face the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park in a Sunday matinee (2 p.m. ET, ESPN, ESPN3, ESPN Deportes).

New York hopes to leave its defensive lapses behind them after dropping a 4-2 result on Thursday to the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field. The return of Dane Richards and an own goal by Sounders defender Zach Scott helped New York answer two early goals by midfielders Eric Friberg and Osvaldo Alonso, but Roger Levesque's second-half brace clinched a win for the home club in its newly-renamed stadium.

Chicago carries and eight-game unbeaten streak into Sunday's contest after battling to a scoreless draw against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday. That unbeaten run includes an active streak of five draws at home and three overall. Fire captain Marco Pappa returned from Gold Cup duty with Guatemala to solidify a midfield that created several scoring chances against RSL.

A decisive Philadelphia Union 3-2 win over Chivas USA at PPL Park on Saturday evening leaves New York three points behind first place in the Eastern Conference.

Ready to Reload. The Red Bulls will receive an offensive boost from the return of Thierry Henry, who missed Thursday's match while serving a one-game suspension for receiving a straight red card towards the end of last Sunday's match at Portland. The return of Henry -- who will likely start up top next to Dwayne De Rosario as Luke Rodgers continues to rest the plantar fasciitis in his left foot -- enables Richards to move back to his regular right midfield position, which should help add speed and creativity to a section where New York fell flat against Seattle.

Key Matchup: NY's Back Line v. Chicago's Midfield. While goalkeeper Greg Sutton carries a chunk of the blame for New York's inability to keep Seattle from finding the back of the net, the struggles of Stephen Keel and Carlos Mendes have left a deficiency in the defense for other teams to attack at will. The Red Bulls will finally have Rafael Marquez and Tim Ream back later this week after Mexico defeated the United States in the Gold Cup Final on Saturday, but Keel and Mendes will need to hold down the fort for one more match in the interim.

That Fire attack has mustered a meager two goals in five June matches, but has seen some chemistry build between midfielders Patrick Nyarko and Dominic Oduro over that stretch. Add in the return of Pappa and suddenly Chicago's offensive capabilities look considerably stronger. Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas may not use all three at the same time on Sunday, but will look to them to create chances for the home side while forward Christian Nazarit serves the second leg a of a two-game suspension.

If Keel and Mendes want to leave their starting jobs on a high note, they'll need to break up whatever Nyassi, Oduro, and Pappa try to create for Chicago in the offensive end.

Thirteen. According to MLSsoccer.com, that's how many set piece goals New York has surrendered via set piece since battling the LA Galaxy to a 1-1 draw on May 7. That came to ahead on Thursday as Seattle created two early goals in the ensuing scrums following corner kicks, with Sutton unable to steal a shot.

It's easy to say that New York should simply defend better, but one wonders if Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe can unlock the combination for his zonal marking system to defend against the set piece. It has to get better because it can't possibly get any worse.

Bouna Bound? Sutton has started every match since the May 21 draw to the Houston Dynamo at Robertson Stadium. Thursday's loss was Sutton's first in that stretch, with no clean sheets over that seven-game run to counter it.

Sutton has also started twice in the last seven days, with his lack of reaction in the area costing New York dearly in their loss at Seattle. Backe likely should strongly consider starting Bouna Coundoul in net, if only to give Sutton a chance to rejuvenate from his heavy workload. Sutton may still be Backe's guy, but he won't be for long if Coundoul can't give him a break anytime soon.

Big Mouth. New York took a hit in the pocketbook on Friday as MLS commissioner Don Garber handed down a $10,000 fine to Red Bulls GM Erik Soler for the latter's criticisms of the unbalanced officiating at Portland last Sunday. While that won't directly affect New York's play on the field, it remains to be seen whether Soler should continue to point the finger at the U.S. Soccer officials or his own players.

W2W4: NY Red Bulls at Portland Timbers

June, 19, 2011
6/19/11
12:25
PM ET
The Red Bulls run for the Rose City on Sunday evening as they kick off an 11-day, three-game road trip against the expansion Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field.

New York will look to continue their winning ways after collecting a 2-1 victory over the New England Revolution nine days ago at Red Bull Arena. Thierry Henry played a pivotal role on both Red Bulls goals, as Henry scored the game-winner in the second half and also shot the ball that deflected off Revs defender Ryan Cochrane into the wrong net for an own goal.

Portland brings a three-game losing streak into Sunday's contest -- or four, if you include a friendly loss to AFC Ajax on May 25 -- after dropping a 1-0 result to the Colorado Rapids on June 11. The Timbers saw defender Futty Danso leave the pitch on a stretcher before Rapids defender Drew Moor finished a rebound in the penalty area during stoppage time.

Philadelphia lost to the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, leaving the Red Bulls tied with the Union atop the Eastern Conference with 22 points. However, the Union's 6-4-4 record is one win better than New York's 5-2-7 resume.

Into the Woods. Kevin Clark of the Wall Street Journal recently described the Red Bulls supporters' groups as "some of the craziest fans in New York," citing their passionate performances in the South Ward during every home game.

The NY supporters always make their presence felt, but they didn't make SportsCenter for their rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner. In their short MLS tenure, the Timbers Army helped create a reputation for Jeld-Wen Field as one of the rowdiest places to play in all of the league.

While the likes of Henry and former Tottenham midfielder Teemu Tainio should be familiar with such a European match atmosphere, the same can't be said for a make shift Red Bulls back line built of MLS career backs Carlos Mendes and Stephen Keel. If they can't keep their composure, the Timbers could make them pay dearly.

Key Matchup: NY's Defense v. Portland's Set Pieces. The Timbers love the set piece, with 10 of their 15 goals scored in 13 games this season culminating from the dead ball. And while Red Bulls 'keeper Greg Sutton has stopped two penalty kicks in as many weeks, NY's troubles with defending against the set piece are well documented in 2011.

While Timbers coach John Spencer -- who is suspended for Sunday's match due to his recent remarks about the refereeing -- rounded up many players capable of handling free kick duties, midfielder Jack Jewsbury tends to figure the most prominently in the role.

Without the set piece, Portland tends to find themselves competing against the run of play. The Red Bulls will need to flawlessly execute their zonal marking system when defending against the set piece, but they may find better success by being more judicious with their challenges.

Turf Warfare. Sunday's match in Portland marks the second time this season that the Red Bulls played on FieldTurf. While that should keep the ball moving on the pitch, the same can't be said for Tainio, Luke Rodgers, Joel Lindpere, and others with lingering injuries.

With a short period to recuperate before visiting the Seattle Sounders on Thursday, Red Bulls coach Hans Backe will likely take great care to protect the health of the squad still diminished by Gold Cup call-ups.

Laying the Golden Egg. Canadian midfielder Dwayne De Rosario returned to the Red Bulls last week after his Canadian side was eliminated from the Gold Cup. He should help lighten the offensive load carried by Henry and Rodgers over the past few weeks.

But De Ro's return may not have the biggest Gold Cup implications on the match. Before New York kicks off Sunday evening, they will know the result of the quarterfinal match between the United States and Jamaica. A US loss means Backe will have forward Juan Agudelo and defender Tim Ream back in the rotation, while a defeat for the Reggae Boyz means midfielder Dane Richards should return this week.

Depending on the US-Jamaica result, Backe may play his lineup differently to account for the depth at his disposal. He might let Henry play all out if Agudelo will be available Thursday, or might rely more on a midfield that will get a boost from Richards's return.

East Coast Bias. Three of the five Timbers wins at home have come against Eastern Conference teams. Only D.C. United left Portland with a positive result by collecting the first-ever win for an away team at Jeld-Wen Field on May 29.

Portland's 5-6-2 record may leave them mired in eighth place out west, but those 17 points would be good enough for a fifth-place tie with DC in the East. Considering that the majority of those wins came against teams chasing the Red Bulls, New York might as well consider Sunday's tilt as a conference clash.

RBNY Recap: Red Bulls 2, Revolution 1

June, 10, 2011
6/10/11
11:42
PM ET
As right back Ryan Cochrane unfortunately proved, the best Red Bulls offense can be the Revs' defense.

New York can finally describe its recent winless streak in the past tense after collecting a 2-1 victory on Friday evening over the struggling New England Revolution. While the Revs opened the scoring in the first half, they did so for the wrong side as Cochrane deflected a Thierry Henry shot into the wrong net for an own goal.

Henry added an insurance goal in the 50' minute by dribbling past Cochrane on the right side and tapping a low shot inside the far post past Revs 'keeper Matt Reis. NE forward Zak Boggs answered Henry's goal moments later by picking up a Chris Tierney cross just to the right of the six-yard-box and shooting it to the left of a diving Greg Sutton for the Revs' only goal.

The win gives New York a 5-2-7 record and a one-point lead over the Philadelphia Union for first place in the Eastern Conference. The Union kick off on Saturday afternoon at home against Real Salt Lake.

It's How You Play the Game. New York managed an 11-point edge over the Revs on possession (55.8%-to-44.2%) and appeared to find the passing touch that gave opposing defenses fits earlier this season.

Despite that progress, the Red Bulls still struggled to provide sufficient service to the forwards up top and endured a great deal of pressure in the second half after New England reverted to a very-productive 4-4-2 formation.

The numbers will demonstrate how New York held on for the win, but Red Bulls coach Hans Backe should further emphasize cohesion on the pitch to convert the failed conversions of Friday's match into strong finishes going forward.

Play of the Game: Sutton's PK Save. Referee Terry Vaughn awarded the Revs with a penalty kick in the 33' minute after Red Bulls rookie defender Stephen Keel received a yellow card for bringing down Revs forward Rajko Lekic in the box. Revs midfielder and longtime RBNY pest Shalrie Joseph stepped up to the spot for the PK and aimed low and to the right -- and right into a diving Sutton.

Though the Revs only mustered four shots on target against NY, Sutton's save precluded his side from conceding yet another early lead and playing catch up. It notably changed the tempo on the pitch and the enthusiasm from the stands, which may have contributed to the flurry which resulted in Cochrane's own goal less than four minutes later.

If Sutton misses Joseph's kick, the headline involves the Red Bulls' troubles with dead balls. Instead, the headline involves Sutton putting his mark on the first Red Bulls win since April with a highlight reel save.

Maintaining the Middle Ground. The midfield duo of Joel Lindpere and Teemu Tainio dictated the pace for the Red Bulls on both ends of the ball. It just did not do enough to counter the inconsistent run of form that held back Mehdi Ballouchy and Austin da Luz.

Ballouchy's questionable touches on the ball culminated with his failure to redirect a pinpoint cross from Henry in the penalty box towards a wide open net in the 76' minute. Da Luz did not have so prominent a miss, but frequently struggled with his passing decisions and often put too much touch on the ball to the detriment of the Red Bulls' attack.

Shiny, Happy People. The announced attendance of 21,201 actually resembled the fans in the stands rather than approximation of tickets sold. The Red Bulls have seen the turnstiles spin a great deal lately, which has started to create a more energetic, soccer-friendly atmosphere at Red Bull Arena. It was a fitting sendoff as New York departs for a four-game road trip.

Change at the Top. Shortly before first kick, the Red Bulls announced that longtime NBA executive Chris Heck will join the organization as the club's President of Business Operations. Heck will replace Erik Stover, who is stepping down from the post after serving in the role since May 2008. Stover has overseen exponential growth in sponsorships and season ticket sales for New York and is often credited with playing a vital role in the Red Bulls' recruitment of Thierry Henry from Europe.

The Red Bulls will get their first glimpse of raucous JELD-WEN Field as they take the pitch against the expansion Portland Timbers on Father's Day. First kick is schedule for 10 p.m. on Sunday, June 19.

W2W4: Red Bulls v. Columbus Crew

June, 4, 2011
6/04/11
9:28
AM ET
The Red Bulls return home on Saturday evening with a five-game winless streak intact for a regular season rematch against the middling Columbus Crew.

New York failed to secure a win in the month of May after departing Empire Field in Vancouver with a 1-1 draw against the expansion Whitecaps last Saturday. New York conceded its sixth dead ball goal in nine games when Eric Hassli converted an early penalty kick, though Luke Rodgers brought the score level ten minutes later by tapping a Jan Gunnar Solli cross past 'Caps goalkeeper Jay Nolly. However, Rodgers and Dwayne De Rosario -- who started up top in place of the injured Thierry Henry -- did not follow up with the offensive touch necessary to leave Canada with a win.

Three consecutive draws leaves the Red Bulls with a 4-2-6 record and 18 points, or two behind the first-place Philadelphia Union in the Eastern Conference.

It's Déjà Vu All Over Again. Speak up if you have heard this one before: Injuries and international call-ups have left the Red Bulls fielding a makeshift lineup.

If that sentiment sounds familiar, it should for more reasons than the upcoming Gold Cup tournament. New York played Columbus to a 0-0 draw on March 26 despite losing five starters -- Tim Ream, Juan Agudelo, Rafael Marquez, Dane Richards, and Bouna Coundoul -- to international duty as well as Henry and goalkeeper Greg Sutton to injury. That lineup held the line defensively in front of 'keeper Alex Horwath -- who New York signed one day prior to the match -- but struggled to produce in the attacking zone.

While De Rosario joins the five March call-ups in international play starting this weekend, Henry should resume his attacking duties alongside Rodgers. That should help New York improve on the paltry two shots on target they mustered at Crew Stadium in March.

Key Matchup: Solli v. Columbus's Left Midfield. Solli has eased the absence of Dane Richards by continuing to push up on the right wing and frequently dabbling in the midfield. His club-leading four assists culminated from his work on the wing and his scrambling up and down the flank.

Meanwhile, Columbus still lacks a clear consensus on who can play on the left side after losing Robbie Rogers to Gold Cup duty. Josh Gardner lacked the proper form while attempting to fill Rogers's shoes last week against Chivas USA before being pushed back to his natural left back role at halftime. It is unclear who Crew head coach Robert Warzycha considers plan C or if that plan will fill the gap.

That gap should leave Solli and whoever Hans Backe lines up at right midfield with enough room to create service for the forwards.

Ekpo's Expo. While the Crew's offense has suffered greatly following the departure of longtime captain Guillermo Barros Schelotto, they appeared to unlock something in Emmanuel Ekpo during last week's draw against Chivas USA.

After failing to produce at forward, Warzycha started Ekpo at holding midfielder. The decision rewarded the Nigerian midfielder with his first assist since September 2009, while the decision to let Ekpo join the attack in the second half produced Ekpo's first goal in two years.

New York will need to keep an eye on Ekpo to assure that last week's performance was an aberration and not a new standard.

Setting Expectations. While much has been made of New York's struggles to defend against set pieces, they will have as good an opportunity as any to correct those troubles against Columbus. Despite a long history of success with dead balls, the Crew are the only MLS side left without a goal from a set piece this season.

Crossing the Streams. According to Opta Sports, the New York Red Bulls average more crosses than any other MLS side this season. They also rank third in being called offsides. That should offer enough evidence to demonstrate the pressure of the vaunted Red Bulls' attack. If New York can keep the crosses up while cutting back on the offsides trouble, goals should surely follow.

RBNY Recap: Rapids takeaway NY's finish

May, 26, 2011
5/26/11
10:12
AM ET
It should always be easier to attack with the ball, even if the Red Bulls keep producing evidence to the contrary.

Despite a 62%-to-38% edge in possession over the Colorado Rapids during Wednesday's 2-2 draw at Red Bull Arena, the defending MLS Cup champions put more shots on target than New York by a margin of 10 to six. A stout Rapids defense kept the potent Red Bulls attack in check with a +10 giveaway/takeaway margin, which was largely fueled by Colorado's execution of 30 takeaways as compared to 18 by New York.

"We couldn't break them up," said Red Bulls coach Hans Backe. "The creativity in the last third left not much and space and time for our players. Also, the passing game left too many unforced errors."

To improve on that disparity going forward, forward Luke Rodgers suggests picking up the offensive pace to create more pressure on opposing defenses.

"High tempo game," said Rodgers. "Keep pressing them aggressively. Do that and you’re going to score more goals."

Rodgers's sentiments about increasing the offensive pressure were also echoed by Dwayne De Rosario. "We just have to be a little more nasty and a little more hungry on winning every ball,” said the Canadian midfielder.

Miller Maligned. While much will be made of New York's continued troubles with defending against set pieces, the foul which set up Jeff Larentowicz's penalty kick gave New York a reason to gripe.

Referee Jorge Gonazlez awarded a penalty kick to Colorado after apparent contact in the penalty area by Red Bulls defender Roy Miller sent Rapids forward Andre Akpan to the ground. Replays showed that Miller made contact to right of the arc outside of the area, which would have resulted in a free kick but not an unobstructed penalty kick.

"I think it was a rash decision," said De Rosario. "I think the lineman should’ve stayed his ground and pointed outside the 18. It was what it was. The penalty is definitely questionable."

Jack of All Trades. Midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy played another solid game for New York and should expect to see his playing time increase with De Rosario and Dane Richards departing for the Gold Cup. The Moroccan midfielder admitted his desire to support his club in any way he can from the top three midfield positions.

"Whatever works for the team," said Ballouchy. "I’m the last guy to complain about position. If the coaching staff thinks I should play there, I would work on it and do my best."

Rapid Reaction: Red Bulls 2, Rapids 2

May, 25, 2011
5/25/11
10:13
PM ET
The New York Red Bulls and the Colorado Rapids played to a 2-2 draw on Wednesday evening at Red Bull Arena. Colorado twice took the lead in the first half courtesy of two goals by Rapids midfielder Jeff Larentowicz. New York quickly answered each goal with successive strikes by Thierry Henry and Luke Rodgers.

By earning one point in the standings from the draw, the Red Bulls draw even with the Philadelphia Union atop the Eastern Conference standings with both clubs resuming action on Saturday.

Piece of Set. Once again, the Red Bulls conceded both goals from set pieces. Larentowicz opened the scoring in the 27' minute after finishing a rebound from his own penalty kick. He later helped Colorado regain the lead in the 33' minute from a free kick just to the right of the arc. New York led in possession throughout the game -- the Rapids did not get their first touch in the attacking zone until 7:34 into the match -- but cost themselves two more goals from bad fouls near their own penalty area.

Play of the Game: Ream's Kick Save on Casey. Perhaps Red Bulls coach Hans Backe should add his star sophomore into the goalkeeper conversation. With 'keeper Greg Sutton off his line, Tim Ream found himself in the 76' minute as the only thing standing in between Conor Casey and a Rapids' game-winning goal. Ream, while standing on the goal line, picked up the path of Casey's kick and batted it away from net. That gives Ream two bailout saves on the season, with the first coming on a Landon Donovan kick during the 1-1 draw to the LA Galaxy earlier this seaosn.

Ream quarterbacked an effective back line that endured the absence of Rafael Marquez, who missed Wednesday's game due to a groin injury. And he single-handedly saved the game for New York by inadvertently stepping in for Sutton.

Call and Answer. Although the Red Bulls surrendered two goals due to their ongoing free kick foibles, they responded in kind before the Rapids could truly savor the lead.

Two minutes after Larentowicz's first goal, Henry picked up a pinpoint cross from Dwayne De Rosario and buried it on the right side of the net. Larentowicz would score his second goal two minutes later, only to have Rodgers pick up a Roy Miller pass on the right side and lob it over the head of Rapids 'keeper Matt Pickens for the equalizer.

The four goals in six minutes was the fastest in a game involving the Red Bulls, and the first occurrence since the San Jose Earthquakes and Houston Dynamo accomplished the frenetic feat on March 28, 2009.

Feeling Possessed. The Red Bulls dominated possession at a 62%-to-38% clip, but failed to capitalize on it in the first half with several failed lob passes from the back line. New York kept the ball on the ground more effectively in the second half, with no positive results to show for it.

Odds and Ends. The Red Bulls learned before the match that De Rosario, Ream, and Juan Agudelo will join the club in its away trip this weekend before departing the team for international duty. Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas and striker Robert Van Persie were among the 18,101 fans in attendance at Red Bull Arena.

The Red Bulls will take their four-game winless streak out West as they visit the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday at Empire Field. First kick is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

RBNY Recap: Ballouchy bails out NY in 2-2 draw vs. Dynamo

May, 22, 2011
5/22/11
12:42
PM ET
Saturday's story begins and ends with the Red Bulls' offense but still leaves them falling out of first place in the Eastern Conference.

Despite bookending the match with a first-minute goal by Dane Richards and a stoppage-time strike by Mehdi Ballouchy, New York only mustered a 2-2 draw on the road against the Houston Dynamo. Ballouchy converted his first goal of the season one minute into stoppage time by heading a Joel Lindpere corner kick above Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall and into the top right corner of the net.

Houston answered Richards' goal early by way of a Brad Davis penalty kick that culminated from a Rafael Marquez foul in the box on Dynamo forward Will Bruin. The Dynamo took the lead late after Koke picked up a rebound from a Geoff Cameron header and buried it for his first career MLS goal past Red Bulls 'keeper Greg Sutton, who started Saturday's match in place of Bouna Coundoul.

The draw combined with a Philadelphia Union win over the Chicago Fire knocks the Red Bulls out of first place. The Red Bulls continue to maintain their two-point second place lead over Houston.

Mehdi Happy Returns. Ballouchy's game-saving goal helped New York save face in its draw at Houston. Despite losing significant playing time due to the emergence of Teemu Tainio, the Moroccan midfielder came on as a substitute forward for an ineffective Juan Agudelo in hopes of providing a scoring spark for New York. He came, he saw, he delivered.

"I have been coming in and playing a lot of different positions hoping for us to do well and win the (Supporters') Shield and win the MLS Cup," said Ballouchy. "If that means me playing a smaller role and playing different positions for us to win, then that's what it takes."

Play of the Game: Sutton's Own Goal Save. The Red Bulls midfield figured prominently in the majority of the scoring chances on Saturday. However, one of those chances by a former Dynamo star almost benefited the wrong side.

Davis sent a corner kick in the 35' minute towards the near side of the net. The kick lined up perfectly with Dwayne De Rosario's positioning, who successfully deflected the ball away but inadvertently directed it towards the Red Bulls' net. A cautious Sutton recognized the ball's trajectory near the top cross bar and punched it straight up and out of bounds.

Agudelo Hype Machine: One Agudelo (Out of Five). Agudelo did not make the most of his spot start in place of an injured Thierry Henry. The young forward mustered only one shot on goal and rarely put any significant touch on the ball in a match where significantly more was expected of him. Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe substituted Ballouchy for the ineffective Agudelo in the 79' minute, which later paid dividends as Ballouchy scored the equalizer in stoppage time.

Setting Up Trouble. The Red Bulls once again struggled to defend against opposing set pieces. Both Dynamo goals culminated from set pieces, with Davis scoring on a penalty kick and Koke's rebound during a corner kick scrum. The two goals make it a total of five dead-ball goals surrendered by the Red Bulls in the last three games.

Backe maintained his zonal marking system on defense against set pieces and likely started Sutton to take advantage of his size advantage of Coundoul. The system remains a work in progress, though Sutton played well in his first start since enduring a concussion in March.

The Middle of Everywhere. By and large, the Red Bulls midfield played an effective game and provided all of the scoring. The midfield led the club with nine shots and three on target, which doesn't include de-facto midfielder Jan Gunnar Solli's contributions nor Ballouchy's late heroics. They clearly shook their discipline doldrums from last week's loss to Chivas USA and factored greatly into a 56%-to-44% possession edge for New York on Saturday.

The Red Bulls will need to quickly put Saturday's draw in the rear view mirror as they prepare to welcome the defending MLS Cup champions, the Colorado Rapids, at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday. First kick is scheduled for 8 p.m.

RBNY Recap: Braun's hat trick buries NY in Goats' 3-2 upset win

May, 16, 2011
5/16/11
10:07
AM ET
Chivas USA became the first team in 2011 to win a transcontinental away game by defeating the lethargic New York Red Bulls 3-2 at Red Bull Arena on Sunday. The loss ends New York's four-game unbeaten streak and delivers the Eastern Conference leaders their first loss at home this season.

Justin Braun, who started Sunday night in place of the suspended Marcos Mondaini, scored three go-ahead goals for the Rojiblancos in a game that New York never led. Braun opened scoring in the 6th minute by dribbling past a flat-footed Red Bulls back line and finished with a long strike from the top left corner of the box. His next two goals developed from set pieces, which included a headed goal in the 31st minute and a 56th minute rebound strike for the game winner.

New York twice answered Braun's strikes in the first half. Thierry Henry extended his five-game point streak by picking up a long lob pass by Rafael Marquez and finishing it with a soft, surgical strike inside the left post. Dwayne De Rosario scored his first goal as a Red Bull by converting a penalty kick issued in the 35th minute.

Despite the loss, New York remains in first place in the Eastern Conference with a one-point lead over the Philadelphia Union. Chivas USA gained two points on the Portland Timbers with the win but continues to sit at seventh place in the Western Conference.

Play of the Game: De Ro's PK. De Rosario's penalty kick gave the Canadian midfielder his first goal of the season. It may have given Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe a viable replacement for Juan Pablo Angel at the spot.

Unfortunately, De Ro's goal also represented the only positive result from any Red Bulls set piece on Sunday. New York accrued a whopping 14 corner kicks and multiple free kicks and failed to muster much offensive pressure on any of them.

Marquez, who handled all free kicks except De Ro's PK, looked to target Henry and did not place the ball anywhere for the rest of the Red Bulls to create much chaos in the box. Not that much would have come of it anyway, considering that the Red Bulls lacked creativity in their set piece formations and rarely found themselves in positions to receive Marquez's crosses -- let alone with scoring chances.

Right is Wrong. Chivas USA consistently focused its attack from the wide left, frequently moving the ball in that direction with lateral passes and effective dribbling on the flank. Part of that came from a concerted effort to keep Goats' goal-scoring leader Alejandro Moreno in check on the right side rather than Braun on the left. Part of that came from right back Jan Gunnar Solli putting too many touches on the ball. Part of that came from right midfielder Dane Richards being fairly invisible for most of the evening.

All of it cleared a path into the attacking zone for the Rojiblancos. Braun's three goals either came from the left side or culminated from pressure on that end.

Walk the Line. While the Red Bulls defense and midfield struggled to string precision passes together, the Chivas back line led by Heath Pearce effectively pressed up against New York's attack and compressed the midfield's room to maneuver. Henry and Luke Rodgers frequently displayed fits of frustration from being caught offside seven times and rarely receiving sufficient service.

Despite rookie Zarek Valentin starting next to Pearce at center back and later shifting to right back after Michael Lahoud left in the 30th minute due to after what appeared to be a relapse of his concussion symptoms, New York relied too heavily on long lob passes and not enough on making trouble in the run of play. That played right into the the Goats' aggressive defense.

The Montreal Impact. Some will undoubtedly point the finger at last Wednesday's friendly in Montreal as an explanation for why the Red Bulls lost their get-up-and-go. All of Sunday's starters except Rodgers and Teemu Tainio made the Quebec trip and started in the midweek match, disrupting their regular work schedule and possibly disorienting their weekly rejuvenation. Backe may need to gauge the severity of Montreal's impact, as they will play three regular season games in eight days starting next Saturday.

Lights Out. Sunday's match was delayed 30 minutes due to a power outage resulting from area lightning. It was unclear whether the Red Bulls' alarm clocks were affected.

The Red Bulls will have a full week to recuperate from Sunday's loss ahead of their next match in Houston against the Dynamo on Saturday.

Houston ended a two-game losing streak with a 0-0 draw at Real Salt Lake on Saturday. The Dynamo presently sit at third place in the Eastern Conference, just two points behind the conference-leading Red Bulls.

Correction (10:55 A.M.): In the original post, the author incorrectly named Chivas USA forward Justin Braun as Houston Dynamo forward Will Bruin.

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