Red Bulls-United Preview
The New York Red Bulls dominated possession in their first four
games, but poor finishing led to only two goals.
Luke Rodgers and Thierry Henry made sure those struggles
The Red Bulls’ new pairing up front produced three goals in an
easy victory, a result they’ll look to build on Thursday night at
RFK Stadium against league scoring leader Charlie Davies and D.C.
Despite the presence of Henry, rising star Juan Agudelo and the
April 1 addition of two-time MLS Cup MVP Dwayne De Rosario, New
York (2-1-2) did little through four games to indicate it was
living up to its preseason billing as one of the Eastern Conference
After being held to one goal in three games despite often having
the run of play, the Red Bulls broke out Saturday against San Jose.
Coach Hans Backe inserted Rodgers into Agudelo’s striker spot and
the 5-foot-7 former English third division star shined, scoring
twice and setting up Henry’s goal in New York’s 3-0 victory.
“I don’t know if it is because teams don’t see him because he’s
so short or because he’s so fast, but he’s always dangerous,” Red
Bulls defender Tim Ream told MLSSoccer.com of Rodgers. “But he runs
for 90 minutes.”
Getting Henry on the scoreboard was perhaps as significant as
Rodgers’ contributions. The four-time English Premier League Golden
Boot winner hadn’t scored since Sept. 11 – a drought totaling 684
minutes – and had been bothered by what he was calling a “chronic”
“He was (in a) different class (Saturday), his touch on the
ball,” Backe said of Henry. “He was strong on one-versus-one’s as a
target, so this was his best performance so far for (the Red
Bulls). If he can stay on this level, we definitely have a player
who can make a difference in this league.”
Perhaps the most encouraging news to come from the win is that
Henry’s Achilles didn’t bother him, meaning Backe plans to once
again pair him with Rodgers against United (2-2-1) despite the
New York might need Rodgers and Henry to be on top of their
games again to keep up with D.C., which has an East-high nine
Davies, who is making his comeback from a near-fatal car crash
that kept him off the 2010 U.S. World Cup roster, made his first
start Saturday at Toronto and scored his fifth goal, while Chris
Pontius added two more in a 3-0 win.
“Hopefully the goals keep coming,” Davies said. “I’m just kind
of shocked the way things have been going, (but) I’m surrounded by
a great group of guys and the support is there so I just have to
United managed to get three points Saturday despite dealing with
a flu bug that made its way through the team, keeping rookie Perry
Kitchen out of the starting lineup and midfielder Andy Najar out
By Tuesday, though, D.C. seemed to be in far better shape.
“It seems like it’s leaving,” coach Ben Olsen said. “…
Physically I think we’re in a pretty good spot, having a lot of
choices on my end – and that’s a good thing.”
The Red Bulls won the season series 1-0-1 in 2010.