In their second regular match of 2012, the New York Red Bulls dropped a 2-0 decision to unbeaten Western Conference foe Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium Saturday night, in Utah. After starting the year with two straight games on the road, New York’s (0-2-0) next match will be its home opener at Red Bull Arena on Sunday, March 25 against the Colorado Rapids at 4:00 PM ET.
Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara made the first save of the evening in the 16th minute, coming off his line to block a Ned Grabavoy feed from the left wing with Fabian Espindola lurking in the box. On the other end, Thierry Henry led a counterattack after a Real Salt Lake corner kick was cleared by New York and his final pass in the 28th minute was blocked away by a diving Espindola. Seven minutes later, Espindola slipped Paulo Jr. free into the 18-yard box, but Meara was quick enough to deflect the ball away before the Real Salt Lake forward had the opportunity to shoot.
Real Salt Lake opened the scoring six minutes from halftime. Paulo Jr. flicked a pass into the path of an onside Espindola, who was clear through on goal. Espindola raced in and put his left-footed attempt under Meara.
Henry nearly tied it up soon after Espindola’s tally. Roy Miller had space on the left and swung a low cross that Henry re-directed into the arms of goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
The Red Bulls brought on Mehdi Ballouchy and Kenny Cooper at halftime and the latter provided a pass to an open Henry at the top of the box. Henry hit it with the outside of his boot straight at Rimando in the 54th minute. Four minutes later, the hosts doubled their advantage. Paulo Jr. got free on the left side of the penalty box and found Espindola by the penalty spot and his ensuing shot was blocked by Meara. Luis Gil was first to the rebound and fired it home.
Henry nearly scored a spectacular goal in the 64th minute. A Red Bulls corner kick was cleared to Dax McCarty. McCarty’s attempted shot went to Henry and the Frenchman controlled the ball with his back to goal and hit a bicycle kick that just missed the frame of the net. With 15 minutes to play, Rimando fully extended to parry a Jan Gunnar Solli close range shot off a Miller delivery.