It’s week four of the 2014 MLS season and the New York Red Bulls still haven’t won a game after four tries. Last Sunday’s home contest against Chivas USA, a team in administrative limbo, being run by the league as it shops for a buyer for the franchise, seemed a good bet for the Red Bulls’ first win, but the hosts barely avoided defeat and struggled for a 1-1 draw in stoppage time.
It took forward Peguy Luyindula’s goal in the 94th minute to save face in front of 15,000-plus fans at Red Bull Arena and give the home team the draw. Time seemed to be running out on the Red Bulls, who trailed, 1-0, from the 25th minute of the game; the stadium clock had already indicated that 90 minutes had been played, but it was up to the referee’s official clock to signal the end. At just about four minutes into stoppage time and with nervous anticipation that referee Juan Guzman’s final whistle may sound at any moment, Eric Alexander was about to kick a corner which would be the Red Bulls’ last hope to salvage a draw; as the low cross swung into the crowded goal area, Luyindula darted towards the near post and glided the ball into the net off the right side of his head.
A DRAWN GAME AND A HUGE SIGH OF RELIEF!
The Red Bulls (0-1-3, 3 pts.) fell behind midway in the first half when Erick Torres scored from the penalty spot after Red Bulls defender Richard Eckersley committed a foul on a Chivas USA (1-1-2, 5 pts) forward in the goal area. Eckersley’s sloppy play was reflective of the Red Bulls’ game in the first half – sloppy, lackluster and aimless. The home team picked up its energy in the second half, which was highlighted by midfielder Lloyd Sam’s numerous successful runs down the right side to get behind the Chivas USA defense and provide good service to his teammates in the middle, but there were no takers for those numerous chances to score among the Red Bulls forwards – Bradley Wright Phillips, Thierry Henry and Luyindula. Sam was named man-of-the-match.
The Red Bulls have not improved the team that won the regular season title last year and this the reason for my gloomy outlook on the season, even though there is still a long way to go. With the exception of Chivas USA, the rest of the clubs have improved; even DC United, who was at the bottom of the standings most of last year, has improved its squad markedly, despite the fact that results have not yet reflected that improvement.
Chivas got good performances from goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, who made spectacular saves in the second half to keep the Red Bulls at bay; former USA national team captain and defender Carlos Bocanegra. Bocanegra, although slowed in his movements, was tactically astute and was able to keep his defense alert and effective throughout the contest.
The Red Bulls take to the road on Saturday, April 5, to play the Montreal Impact at Olympic Stadium at 4:00 p.m. The next game at Red Bull Arena is on Wednesday, April 16, 7:30 p.m., versus the improved Philadelphia Union.
Kenny Cooper’s goal in the 23rd minute gave the visiting Seattle Sounders (2-2-0, 6 pts.) a 1-0 lead, but Justin Meram scored in second half stoppage time to give Columbus Crew (3-0) and new coach Greg Berhalter a 2-1 win over Seattle and his third win in as many games. Federico Higuain provided the corner kick for the winning score after his penalty kick tied the game in the 59th minute. Host FC Dallas (3-0-1, 10 pts.) knocked off the Portland Timbers, 2-1, as new Dallas coach Oscar Pareda also got his third win. Mauro Diaz scored the winner in the 84th minute for FC Dallas. Blas Perez gave Dallas a 1-0 lead in the third minute, but an own-goal by a Dallas defender leveled the score at 1-1 in the 59th. Dallas has its best start since 2006, while Portland (0-1-3), in its fourth season, is off to its worst.
Host Vancouver Whitecaps (2-0-2, 8 pts.) defeated the Houston Dynamo, 2-1, in front of a sellout crowd of 21,000 at BC Place in Vancouver. Jordan Harvey (14th) and Kenny Miller (59th) scored for Vancouver and Ricardo Clark (57th) notched a goal for Houston (2-1, 6 pts.).
Costa Rican international Alvaro Saborio scored a goal in each half to lead Real Salt Lake (2-0-2, 8 pts.) to a 3-0 win over Toronto FC; Luis Gil (28th) tallied the other goal for RSL. RSL captain Kyle Beckerman moved into sixth place in the league as he made his 300th career start in MLS. The New England Revolution (1-2-1, 4 pts.) got its first win of the season when it topped host San Jose Earthquakes, 2-1; Lee Nguyen (93rd) scored the winner. San Jose defender Victor Bernardez scored an own-goal to give the visitor the lead, before Chris Wondolowski tied the game for the Earthquakes. San Jose’s 21-game unbeaten record at Buck Shaw Stadium since March 3, 2013 came to an end.
Defending champion Sporting Kansas City (2-1-1, 7 pts.) came away with a 3-2 victory at Colorado Rapids (1-1-1, 4 pts). Dom Dovale and Graham Zusi scored to pace Sporting KC; Vincente Sanchez had two goals for Colorado (1-1-1), both on penalty kicks. Meanwhile, host DC United (0-2-1, 3 pts.) and the Chicago Fire (0-1-3, 3 pts.) played to a 2-2 draw at RFK Stadium in Washington DC in front of a nationally televised audience. Quincy Amarikwa (82nd) scored the tying goal for Chicago and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (27th) got the other. DC got goals from Fabian Espindola and Perry Kitchen. The Philadelphia Union and the Montreal Impact played to a 1-1 draw in Philadelphia. Marco Di Vaio scored for Montreal (0-3-1, 1 pt.) and Vincent Nogueira scored his first career goal for the Union (1-1-2, 2 pts.).