October 20, 2012
IN THE PLAYOFFS
Red Bulls tie, clinch playoff spot as United overcomes Crew in stoppage time
HARRISON, N.J. -- The Red Bulls have clinched a Major League Soccer playoff berth for the third year in a row.
|Dax McCarty had two excellent scoring chances for the Red Bulls.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Their scoreless home draw with Sporting Kansas City, combined with D.c. United's 3-2 home victory over the Columbus Crew boosted them into the post season.
Despite take the domination, the Red Bulls were forced to settle for a scoreless draw with the Eastern Conference leaders before a capacity crowd at Red Bull Arena on Saturday night.
New York can blame a superb performance by Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen for their latest frustrating result as he stopped everything that came his way to register his 15th shutout of the season.
That result meant the Red Bulls to 15-9-9 and 54 points while KC moved to 17-7-9 and 60 points.
"I would probably say our best performance or our best game during the season," Red Bulls coach Hans Backe told MSG immediately after the game.. "It's just unbelievable. You can't really understand how this ends in a tie and we don't score three, four five goals."
Backe also told MSG: "The intensity, the energy, defending, attacking, I think they got the first chance in the 85th minute. If you can close down a team like Kansas for 85 minutes, we should have won the game. this is football. You need to take your chances, but the performance is very, very good."
New York did just about everything but score against Sporting in the first half.
In contrast to the first two games against Kansas City, the Red Bulls took the attack to the visitors, keeping the defense under pressure for virtually the entire half.
They forced goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen to come up big three times in the in those 45 minutes while his Red Bulls counterpart, Luis Robles, had a relatively silent half.
First, Nielsen pounced on a corner kick scramble in the penalty area to deny midfielder Tim Cahill a scoring opportunity in the 21st minute.
Some two minutes later, Nielsen parried away Dax McCarty's 24-yard effort. The rebound went to an onushing Kenny Cooper, who sent his shot over the crossbar. Cahill's momentum took him into the left corner of the net and it appeared he wanted Cooper to pass him the ball instead of shooting it.
Nielsen was forced to produce some more magic in the 41st minute, knocking away a Cooper drive from 22 yards.
Red Bulls captain Thierry Henry received a yellow card in the 44th minute for arguing that a hand ball should have been called against Aurellin Collin.
Seven minutes into the second half, Nielsen saved the visitors yet again. This time Cahill latched onto a deflected ball on the left side. He ran down the field and set up Henry, whose close-range shot on the left side was again denied by the Danish goalkeeper.
Nielsen continued to stymie the hosts. Within only a span of a few seconds in the 65th minute, Nielsen managed to swat away a Henry 15-yard attempt with his right hand before the rebound deflected off teammate and defender Matt Besler into face.
New York coach Hans Backe replaced a limping Lloyd Sam with veteran Estonian international midfielder Joel Lindpere in the 77th minute.
Goalkeeper Luis Robles, who had not been tested all night, came up with a vital save in the 86th minute, as he knocked away Kamara's header from point-blank range.
"We said on the bench, you don't close down a team like Kansas for 90 minutes," Backe told MSG. "It's typical that they score on that one. That would have been absolutely brutal to lose the game. We should have won it, but I'm very, very pleased.
"I am looking forward to the next weekend because if we can perform like this, this kind of work ethic, aggressive game, we can go far."
The Red Bulls close out the regular season at the Philadelphia Union next Saturday.
Two minutes later, it was McCarty's turn to become a hero Nielsen dived to his right to deny his 16-yard blast.
NY: Markus Holgersson (caution) 38
NY: Thierry Henry (caution) 44
SKC: Kei Kamara (caution) 54
NY: Lloyd Sam (caution) 70
New York Red Bulls (15-9-9, 54 points) Luis Robles (GK), Connor Lade, Markus Holgersson, Rafa Marquez, Heath Pearce, Lloyd Sam, Dax McCarty, Tim Cahill, Teemu Tainio, Kenny Cooper, Thierry Henry
Substitutes Not Used: Bill Gaudette (GK), Tyler Ruthven, Stephen Keel, Sebastien Le Toux, Joel Lindpere, Roy Miller, Jan Gunnar Solli
Sporting Kansas City (17-7-9, 60 points) Jimmy Nielsen (GK), Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic, Graham Zusi (Bobby Convey 88), Paulo Nagamura, Jacob Peterson (Lawrence Olum 79), Julio Cesar, Kei Kamara, C.J. Sapong
Substitutes Not Used: Eric Kronberg (GK), Michael Harrington, Peterson Joseph, Oriol Rosell, Dom Dwyer
Referee: Silviu Petrescu
Referees Assistants: Daniel Belleau, Corey Parker
4th Referee: Geoff Gamble
Attendance: 25,219 (Sellout)