Red Bulls Report: 6/2

by Bobby Gubin
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http://www.flickr.com/photos/bkgunner/4469591585/

Despite Henry’s return and Kenny Cooper’s league-leading 11th Goal, NY fails to find their finishing touch at home

Team captain Thierry Henry finally returned last Wednesday, after a hamstring injury had him shelved for four games. However, the arrival of the Red Bulls’ leader would come to no avail. With their Henry back, and their recent defensive excellence, it’s fair to say the streaking Red Bulls side definitely anticipated a win at home. But Henry would only put one of his eventual seven shots on goal, displaying a bit of pedestrian finishing unlike the former Arsenal legend. The Red Bulls lack of finishing would define the match, as a methodical Chivas USA would earn a 1-1 tie despite being outshot 18-7, and holding only 45% of the possession.

While Chivas USA may have been coming off an impressive 1-0 win over the struggling LA Galaxy, they were still a meager 4-6-1 going into last Wednesday evening’s match in New York. Having played for the California squad just a few weeks ago, the Red Bulls’ new center back Heath Pierce said, “They're a technical team…They like to keep the ball…They like to control the tempo. But I thought we did a good job of implementing our style of play on them.” But not good enough, as the Red Bulls time and again would mishit or misplay the final ball needed to hit the back of the net.

The only luck the Red Bulls would enjoy came in the early in the first half. Former Red Bulls’ striker, Juan Pablo Angel, drove a hard low-ball past Ryan Meara, only to have it rebound sharply off the post and out of danger. But two minutes into the second half, Angel would not miss his twice. He sent an extremely difficult over-the-shoulder volley past a helpless Meara to give Chivas the 1-0 lead. But ten minutes later the Red Bulls’ perennial poacher, Kenny Cooper would again be in the right place at the right time, pouncing on a Dane Richards’ cross. Cooper’s goal would be his 11th of the season, tying him with San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski for the MLS Golden Boot.

New York’s dominating but lacking draw against Chivas only encourages the growing rumor that their offense is one-dimensional. Henry and Cooper have carried them this far, having scored 20 of their 26 goals on the season. But if the Red Bulls are able to further diversify their offensive attack, they might be able to scrape out a win on a night, where Henry or Cooper has trouble finishing. New York’s next match is on the road in Chicago on June 17th. Hopefully, Henry will polish the rust off his boots and can reignite the stampede going forward.

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