By: Milos Kosic
In a comfortable, 2-0 win against San Jose Earthquakes, Thierry Henry’s spectacular performance was crowned with his first MLS goal of the season.
After last week’s surprising win against L.A. Galaxy, San Jose entered the game knowing that another three points would leave them with some hope of progressing into the play offs. They had the chance to take the lead already in the 5th minute, but always faultless Red Bulls goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul blocked the shots from Alvarez and Wondolowski .
San Jose’s period of dominance reached the climax in the 25th minute, when Cornell Glen outran Red Bull defenders and was left alone in front of the goal, but his shot went wide.
Red Bulls, playing in the formation 4-4-2, were relatively disorganized in the first half, moving the ball too slowly, often letting San Jose to control the match. Rafa Marquez, who again started as a defensive midfielder, was unconvincing in his role of a game maker The only chances that Red Bulls had in the first 45th minutes were results of individual brilliance by Henry and Dane Richards.
Richards was denied a clear penalty, when he used his speed to pass by San Jose’s goalkeeper whose only option was to send Richards on the ground.
In the 21st minute, Angel and Henry combined well, but the Frenchman sublime shot bounced off the post.
The deadlock was finally broken in the last minutes of the first half, when after clumsy defense, Richards was left alone in front of the goal. This time he didn’t end up on the ground. Instead, he dribbled the goalkeeper and sent the ball into the net.
Red Bulls lukewarm first half performance was forgotten as soon as the second part of the game started. Eager to entertain more than 21,000 fans that gathered in Red Bull Arena, they pressed forward in search of the second goal. San Jose were so disoriented that it seemed as if they were leading. They played with only one forward, while all other players spent much of the second half on San Jose’s half of the field, defending.
Henry earned cheers and applauses from the audience after a beautiful back-heel that almost doubled Red Bulls’ lead. San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch managed somehow to stop the shot, sending the ball straight to Angel, who failed to score, hitting the post instead.
Henry continued to have fun with San Jose defenders and in the 53rd minute, his attempted to lob the goalkeeper ended up with Busch doing acrobatics in order to stop the ball from entering the goal.
Henry finally scored in the 63rd minute. After another good run down the right flank, Richards, voted the man of the match by fans, sent a cross to Henry, who, in reminiscence of his golden days from Arsenal, beat San Jose’s goalkeeper and set the final score.
Despite their impressive performance, Red Bulls Head Coach Hans Backe expressed his concern about the team’s inability to score at crucial moments. He was unhappy that his team allowed Earthquakes to have too many good opportunities in the first half, and said that Red Bulls will need to improve if they plan to compete for the title.
On September 4, Red Bulls travel to Utah, where they will meet with Real Salt Lake.
Photos courtesy of: Alison Ciarleglio http://www.apcstudio.com