New York Red Bulls 2, Sporting Kansas City 1 | MLS Match Recap
HARRISON, N.J. – Thierry Henry and Bradley Wright-Phillips have come through time and again for the New York Red Bulls this season, and they did so again on Saturday to push the club back into a playoff position.
Wright-Phillips and Henry scored on each side of halftime and New York’s defense held firm to help see off Sporting Kansas City 2-1 in an intense and open Eastern Conference clash at Red Bull Arena on Saturday.
Dom Dwyer gave Sporting KC a glimmer of hope to pull out a result when he scored two minutes after Henry netted a beauty, but the visitors never found an equalizer and were forced to swallow their fourth straight loss.
The victory moved the Red Bulls to 8-8-10 on the year and into fifth place in the Eastern Conference, giving them the final playoff spot with eight games to go. Sporting KC remained in second place, but fell to 12-10-6 and sit four points behind conference leaders D.C. United.
Kansas City came out pressing high from the opening whistle and New York had trouble playing through the pressure. But Wright-Phillips slipped away from Matt Besler in the 11th minute before the veteran center back committed a sliding tackle that clipped the English forward and denied a clear look at goal.
Referee Hilario Grajeda pointed to the spot, but refrained from issuing a card to Besler. It made no difference as Wright-Phillips scored his league-leading 21st goal, firing an unstoppable shot to the left past Andy Gruenebaum.
The Red Bulls had opportunities to add to their lead, but Wright-Phillips and Henry both missed wide with chances from the left side of the penalty area.
Sporting KC had a glorious chance to equalize in the 27th minute. Dwyer beat the Red Bulls’ offside trap and raced in on goal, but his ensuing shot was sent over New York goalkeeper Luis Robles and the crossbar.
At the center of another golden opportunity one minute into first-half stoppage time, Dwyer was thwarted by an incredible save from Robles.
That would come back to haunt Kansas City in the 52nd minute, as Henry took advantage of some space at the top of the penalty area and thundered a shot into the far top corner for his eighth goal of the season.
Sporting KC refused to roll over, with Dwyer netting his 18th of the year two minutes later. Seth Sinovic whipped a ball in from the right flank that found Graham Zusi, who headed the ball across goal for Dwyer to scissor-kick home.
Kansas City scrambled for an equalizer afterwards, but failed to really test Robles despite pressuring the Red Bulls’ back line with several attacks.
The Red Bulls will return to action quickly, as they host their Atlantic Cup rivals D.C. United on Wednesday (8 pm ET, ESPN2, WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes). Sporting KC has a little more time to prepare for their next game, which comes Friday with a visit to Chivas USA.
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by email at Franco8813@gmail.com.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Thierry Henry||This wasn't quite one of his "beast mode" performances but his movement and craftiness led RBNY to 3 points. Oh, and that wonderstrike, too.|
|2||Jamison Olave||The veteran center back anchored a brave, resilient defensive display from the home team.|
Played some truly gorgeous passes. SKC's midfield dynamo continues to put in strong end-to-end displays week in, week out.