Ballouchy saves the day for Red Bulls

Japan’s Mizuho Sakaguchi, right, and United States’ Heather O’Reilly (9) chase the ball during the first half of a friendly soccer match in Cary, N.C., Wednesday, May 18, 2011.
AP Photo/Gerry Broome
AP Photo/Gerry Broome

Mehdi Ballouchy saved the night for the New York Red Bulls. The little-used midfielder came off the bench in the late stages of Saturday night’s MLS game at Houston and scored the equalizer to give the Red Bulls a 2-2 draw with the Houston Dynamo at Robertson Stadium on the campus of the University of Houston.

The stage was set for the dramatic finale from the outset. With just 39 seconds on the game clock, defensive midfielder Teemu Tainio sent a long pass to forward Luke Rodgers, whose first touch allowed the ball to roll toward Dane Richards, who one-timed a right-foot shot into the right corner of the net to put New York ahead in record time; it was the fastest goal scored by a New York Red Bulls player.

The lead didn’t last long and 12 minutes later, Houston’s high pressure tactics won them the ball at midfield; as forward Will Bruin attacked down the left side, he was tackled and fouled in the penalty area by Red Bulls defender and Mexican international Rafael Marquez and left-footer Brad Davis, probably the man of the match for Houston, made no mistake in tying the game from the penalty spot.

The contest was dominated by Houston, which seized the momentum after the penalty as the first half ended, 1-1. Houston continued its domination throughout the second half , but it wasn’t until the 82nd minute when substitute Koke latched on to the loose ball that Red Bulls goalkeeper Greg Sutton failed to hold and gave Houston the 2-1 lead; Geoff Cameron headed a Davis corner directly into Sutton’s hands, but the goalkeeper failed to hold onto the ball.

Women’s Soccer

Heather O’Reilly scored a goal and had an assist to lead the U. S. senior women’s team to a 2-0 victory over Japan on Wednesday night in the Americans’ next-to-last exhibition before the Women’s World Cup in Germany this summer. ‘I’m a happy Tar Heel tonight,’’ O’Reilly said. Amy Rodriguez scored the other goal. The women’s team will play Mexico at Red Bull Arena on June 3 just before heading for Germany.

More from Around NYC