Henry Watch – New York Red Bulls 0 Sporting Kansas City 2
September 19th 2012 – MLS Regular Season
Vs. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (H) @Red Bull Arena.
NEW YORK RED BULLS – 4-4-1-1
Gaudette; Lade, Conde, Holgersson, Pearce; McCarty, Marquez, Tainio, Lindpere; Cahill; Henry.
SPORTING KANSAS CITY – 4-3-3
Nielsen; Sinovic, Besler, Collin, Myers; Espinoza, César, Nagamura; Kamara, Sapong, Zusi.
A 3-1 home win over Columbus set the Red Bulls up nicely for a top of the table clash with Sporting Kansas City. With only five games left after this fixture this was an opportunity for someone to take initiative in the East.
Sporting can boast the best defence in the MLS having conceded only 25 goals in their first 28 games. That said they’d only scored 37 times in the same period so their games are rarely open affairs. Indeed, this season’s first encounter between these two sides was a cagey 1-1 draw.
One might have expected Backe to use home advantage and a buoyant attacking line up to take the game to Sporting however he opted for the cautious approach, leaving both Cooper and Le Toux on the bench, preferring the defensive know how of Teemu Tainio and the withdrawn attacking threat of Tim Cahill.
Yet again, the Red Bulls fell foul of some sloppy defending in the opening exchanges. When a 12th minute free kick cannoned back off the crossbar the New York defence were caught flat footed. The pass to Sarpong was all too easy and the unmarked forward swivelled to notch his seventh of the season.
The deficit was doubled just six minutes later, from another set piece. Conde failed to track Kamara who was first to the cross. Gaudette had no chance with the emphatic header. 2-0.
Thierry’s first chance to influence things came on 22’. As Sporting KC played the ball across the back four Henry pressured Nielsen into a poor kick. Marquez replicated the pressing, stole the ball and fed Henry. The pass was just too strong and Henry was unable to exploit the opening.
Apart from a header off target from Tim Cahill the Red Bulls barely troubled Sporting for the remainder of the half.
The second period started brightly and some neat work from Henry gave Cooper a chance he failed to take.
The stingy KC backline restricted New York to hopeful balls into the box and some fairly tame attempts from distance. Henry only managed to guide a speculative header back to the keeper.
As the game stretched KC can claim to have looked just as likely to score as NY. Gaudette was called into action to deny Zusi and Kamara late on.
Despite a late flurry New York were unable to breach the visiting defence and could do nothing to overturn their first home defeat of the season.
Henry looked lively enough but some poor defending from his team mates meant that overcoming a 2-0 deficit against the best defensive unit in the league was a task beyond even him. Things may have been different had the Red Bulls managed to switch on sooner and if Backe had been ambitious enough to take the game to Sporting.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR RBNY?
This was the Red Bulls first home defeat of the campaign and represents a significant setback in their attempts to finish on top of the Eastern Conference. They are now five points behind Sporting Kansas City and a single point behind Chicago Fire who have a game in hand. In the combined table New York sit fourth. San Jose Earthquakes lead the chase for the Supporters Shield, eight points clear of New York.
With only five games left, three of which are at home, you would still expect New York to finish comfortably in the play off spots. One of those remaining home matches is a final opportunity to get one over Sporting KC as the unbalanced MLS schedule pits the two sides against each other again next month. New York will need to regain consistency pretty quickly if they are to make a serious challenge for the MLS Cup.
September 22 2012 – MLS Regular Season
Vs. New England Revolution (A) @Gillette Stadium.