July 21, 2012
Striker breaks long drought with a 15-minute brace in Red Bulls' 2-0 win over Union
By Michael Lewis
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
HARRISON, N.J. -- It took Kenny Cooper nearly two months to snap a personal, 625-minute scoreless drought in the Red Bulls' 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Union on Saturday.
It took him only 15 minutes to make certain the first goal was not a mistake.
Cooper's brace led the Red Bulls to a 2-0 win as they extended this season's unbeaten run at Red Bull Arena to 10 games (7-0-3).
The victory propelled the Red Bulls (11-5-5, 38 points) into the Eastern Conference lead, pending Sporting Kansas City's (11-6-3, 36) match against the New England Revolution later Saturday evening.
Cooper's goals -- his first since a 1-1 draw with Chivas on May 23 -- were his 12th and 13th of the season, good for second place in Major League Soccer scoring. San Jose Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski leads the league with 17 goals entering Sunday's encounter in Vancouver.
In his third start since coming over in a trade with the LA Galaxy last week, goalkeeper Bill Gaudette recorded his second consecutive clean sheet in front of 21,842 spectators.
The hosts were helped by the fact that Union midfielder Freddy Adu did not dress for the match. Adu was benched due to internal matters.
But that did not stop the Red Bulls from suffering yet another injury, when right back Brandon Barklage was replaced by Jonathan Borrajo, making his MLS debut, in the 16th minute.
Barklage suffered a right hamstring strain while battling Lionard Pajoy for the ball in the right corner in the 12th minute.
After 20 minutes of rather mediocre soccer by both teams, the Red Bulls finally had their first scoring opportunity in the 20th minute. Cooper smashed an 18-yard shot that goalkeeper Zac MacMath blocked with both hands. The rebound came to Sebastien Le Toux, whose follow-up shot sailed over the crossbar and into the stands.
Three minutes later, Pajoy had Philly's first shot, a relatively weak effort that keeper Bill Gaudette handled with no problem.
Cooper had another go of it in the 28th minute, when he tried a 12-yard shot from the left side of the area that MacMath again knocked away with both hands. This time, however, nothing came of the rebound.
Union forward Josue Martinez had his team's most dangerous chance of the first half as he grabbed a pass down the left wing, got a step on Borrajo and sent a shot that was blocked by the Red Bulls' defense.
Cooper's efforts paid off in the 43rd minute when he snapped his personal scoring drought. Midfielder Joel Lindpere played the ball from central midfield to Connor Lade on the left flank. Lade sent in a cross to Cooper, who outjumped Sheanon Williams and beat MacMath from eight yards.
Cooper doubled the score in the 58th minute. This time it was Lade who found Thierry Henry on the left-hand side and the former French international crossed the ball into Cooper, who nodded the ball home from six yards for a 2-0 New York advantage.
The Red Bulls striker tried for a hat trick in the 79th minute as Le Toux passed to him on the right flank, but Cooper shot off a weak shot that MacMath handled easily.
Henry thought he had scored in the 85h minute, but his 12-yard shot was called offside.