New York Red Bulls came from behind to beat the New England Revolution 2-1 and move into a play-off position on Saturday night.
Charlie Davies fired the Revs into the lead, and they were boosted further when Matt Miazga was shown a red card.
A delicious Dax McCarty leveller was then followed by Bradley Wright-Phillips’ 18th of the campaign as the Red Bulls extended their unbeaten run against this opposition to six matches.
Setback for Revolution
It is another set-back for New England, who had bounced back from eight consecutive defeats with a 3-0 win over the Colorado Rapids.
And early on at Red Bull Arena, they looked on course to triumph again.
Within two minutes, Davies picked up a booking as he hit the deck having seemingly beaten Ibrahim Sekagya with a quick step-over. But with manager Jay Heaps still fuming, the Revs were only kept at bay by a couple of stunning Luis Robles stops, initially from AJ Soares’ flick, and then from Andrew Farrell’s close-range smash.
However, the United States stopper was left helpless during New England’s next attack as they took the lead. Teal Bunbury worked a yard of space to deliver from the right, and his centre skipped up off Sekagya, beat Robles and landed perfectly on Davies’ unmarked forehead – his first strike in almost three years.
Both the goalscorer and Kelyn Rowe fizzed efforts wide, with the visitors’ pace and sheer numbers thrown forward continuing to cause havoc for Mike Petke’s men.
Thierry Henry had his side’s first attempt in the 40th minute. Collecting an inch-perfect switch from Cameroon flyer Ambroise Oyongo, the Metrostars captain shimmied towards the defence, before sending a deflected shot into the side-netting.
Red Bulls spark
This sparked the New Jerseyans into life, and division top-scorer Wright-Phillips almost mustered an equaliser. Gliding by the challenge of Bobby Shuttleworth, the former Manchester City forward looked to slot into an empty net, but didn’t account for the recovery of Jose Goncalves as the 2013 MLS Defender of the Year intercepted perfectly.
Any momentum was abruptly arrested in stoppage time at the end of the half though with Miazga’s dismissal. The teenage centre-back dived in late on Lee Nguyen, causing a collision that injured both players and he looked visibly upset upon receiving his marching orders.
But the break allowed New York to regroup, and when they emerged for the second period, an equaliser was swift in its arrival. Eric Alexander poked back to McCarty on the edge of the area, and he executed the most delicate of dinks over a flailing Shuttleworth.
The Red Bulls were now on top. An off target Wright-Phillips header was followed by a flowing team move. The free-scoring 29-year-old juggled the ball on the halfway-line and found Henry, whose first-time volley brilliantly set Oyongo on his way.
Streaking away at great speed, the ex-Lille trialist declined an invite to return possession to his captain and instead cut inside, blasting low at the goalkeeper.
Though the 23-year-old couldn’t disturb the equilibrium, Wright-Phillips soon did. Lloyd Sam superbly chipped a pass into his teammate’s feet, and the Londoner danced inside a defender to unleash an exquisite curler that clipped the far post on its way into the net.
At the other end, Robles pounced on a Nguyen knock-down, and the same man struck wide, but the Revs were offering little and nearly paid the price again.
Henry stole the ball from Goncalves and squared to compatriot Peguy Luyindula. The six-time international considered his options before scuffing against the upright – the rebound bouncing harmlessly into Shuttleworth’s arms.
With time ticking away, a frustrated Heaps could only watch on from the touchline as his Massachusetts outfit missed two final opportunities and fell to defeat once more.