De Rosario, Red Bulls face Union
Despite joining his new teammates just hours before the game, Dwayne De Rosario made an immediate impact in his New York Red Bulls debut.
The Red Bulls are eager to see what kind of effect the two-time MLS Cup MVP will have after actually having some time to practice.
De Rosario looks to build on an encouraging debut and help New York defeat the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night at PPL Park.
After losing in the quarterfinals in last season's playoffs, the Red Bulls (1-0-2) quickly became this year's favorite to win the MLS Cup with last Friday's acquisition of De Rosario from Toronto FC. The 32-year-old De Rosario, who has won MLS championships with San Jose in 2001 and '03 and Houston in 2006 and '07, had the league's third-most goals last season with 15.
"We're good enough," New York coach Hans Backe said after last Saturday's 1-all draw with the Dynamo. "De Rosario was the last piece for us."
De Rosario made his presence felt quickly Saturday after watching the first half from the bench.
In the 47th minute, De Rosario fed Dane Richards from deep, and the speedy midfielder ran to the ball in the box and scored.
"I saw the space open up and I played the ball in," said De Rosario, who barely missed a goal of his own in the 86th minute. "I know what kind of speed he has."
De Rosario helped lead a 16-shot, second-half attack, but the Red Bulls came away with just one goal - only their second of the season.
"Obviously there's still more gelling to do, but I'm very pleased that we were able to create some good goal-scoring chances. So that's a positive," De Rosario said.
De Rosario had two goals for Toronto in a pair of games against the expansion Union last season, but Philadelphia has been stout defensively this year.
The Union's shutout streak to start the season ended Saturday at 213 minutes when Los Angeles defender Leonardo headed in David Beckham's free kick in the 33rd minute. Philadelphia (2-1-0) had a few promising chances late but couldn't score the equalizer and lost 1-0.
"I think we've found a good understanding that in competitive games like this, we need to raise our level of intensity and physicality," coach Peter Nowak said. "From that standpoint, I think we can be a good team."
To become one of the MLS' top teams, however, Philadelphia will likely need to get its struggling offense on track.
The Union finished with four shots - none on goal - against the Galaxy, and they have just two scores through three games.
It could be tough to find the back of the net against New York, which like Philadelphia, also has yielded just one goal.
The Red Bulls and Union split two meetings last season, with each team winning 2-1 at home.