October 27, 2012
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS
Red Bulls blank Union, 3-0, behind Cooper's brace, avoid knockout round
CHESTER, Pa. -- Needing to win their regular-season finale to put themselves in a position to avoid the wildcard round in the Major League Soccer playoffs this week, the Red Bulls registered a 3-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union on Saturday.
|Kenny Cooper celebrates his first goal with Thierry Henry and Joel Lindpere.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Striker Kenny Cooper connected for a brace -- a goal in each half and Thierry Henry added another to boost the Red Bulls at PPL Park as they won on the road for the first time in more than five months, not since a 2-1 win at the Montreal Impact on May 19.
Cooper's fifth multi-goal game of the season left him in second place in league scoring with 18 goals.
The win meant the Red Bulls (16-9-9, 57 points) finished in third place in the Eastern Conference after D.C. United )17-11-7, 58) played the Chicago Fire (17-11-6, 57) to a 1-1 draw in Bridgeview, Ill. later in the afternoon. That meant the Red Bulls avoided Wednesday's knockout-round encounter and will play D.C. in the conference semifinals opener at Red Bull Arena next weekend. New York got the nod over Chicago via a tie-breaker.
The Red Bulls continued their high intensity game and secured a 2-0 halftime advantage behind goals by Cooper and Henry.
Union defender Carlos Valdes took down midfielder Tim Cahill in the penalty area as a spot kick was called. Cooper stepped up and fired toward the low left corner. Goalkeeper Zach MacMath guessed correctly, but could not stop the shot, which turned into Cooper's 17th goal of the season in the 13th minute.
Henry doubled the lead in the 35th minute, poking the ball away from a Philly midfielder, going in one-on-one with Valdes before slotting the ball past MacMath from six yards.
"It's massive, winning two-nil going in at halftime," Red Bulls coach Hans Backe told NBC at the break. "I just hope we can keep up the intensity."
Still, Backe was not satisfied.
"I still think we can do better," he told NBC. "Our midfield is still one step too late."
Philly, however, did not give up.
In the 33rd minute, Jack McInerney headed a Keon Daniel free kick right to goalkeeper Luis Robles.
There was little doubt that the Red Bulls had taken their foot off the pedal early in the secondhalf as the Union looked like it was desperate to reach the playoffs as the hosts produced chance after chance, but could not connect.
"It was a great first half," Henry told NBC. "Second I do not know what happened."
Five minutes into the second half, McInerney set up Daniel, who appeared to be offside. But the assistant referee's flag did not go up and Trinidad & Tobagn international launched a shot wide left.
Valdes got into the act by heading a pass just over the crossbar in the 56th minute.
Cooper, however, made sure he did not miss 10 minutes later. Cooper passed to Dax McCarty, who passed it right back to the striker. While running away from the net on the right side of the penalty area, Cooper managed to fire a shot for a 3-0 Red Bulls advantage in the 66th minute.
Philadelphia almost got an opportunity to break into the scoring column in the 73rd minute. After a takeaway from Dax McCarty, Danny Cruz raced in on goal, but but powered his shot wide right.
Robles came up big for the Red Bulls in the 83rd minute as he won a challenge from Antoine Hoppenot, who charged in on the right flank. The goalkeeper managed to get the ball as Hoppenot was upended.
NY: Kenny Cooper 17 (penalty kick) 13
NY: Thierry Henry 15 (unassisted) 35
NY: Kenny Cooper 18 (Dax McCarty 3) 66
NY: Rafa Marquez (caution) 61
NY: Thierry Henry (caution) 93+
New York Red Bulls (16-9-9, 57 points) Luis Robles (GK), Connor Lade, Markus Holgersson, Rafa Marquez, Heath Pearce, Dax McCarty (Roy Miller 89), Tim Cahill, Teemu Tainio, Joel Lindpere (Jan Gunnar Solli 64), Kenny Cooper (Sebastien Le Toux 74), Thierry Henry
Substitutes Not Used: Bill Gaudette (GK), Tyler Ruthven, Stephen Keel, Digao
Philadelphia Union (10-18-6, 36 points) Zac Macmath (GK), Raymon Gaddis, Amobi Okugo, Carlos Valdes, Michael Lahoud (Antoine Hoppenot 46), Chris Albright (Roger Torres 63), Brian Carroll, Michael Farfan, Keon Daniel (Zach Pfeffer 86), Danny Cruz, Jack McInerney
Substitutes Not Used: Chris Konopka (GK), Chandler Hoffman, Gabriel Gomez, Jimmy McLaughlin
Referee: Chris Penso
Referees Assistants: Adam Wienckowski, Jason Cullum
4th Referee: Jose Carlos Rivero