As right back Ryan Cochrane unfortunately proved, the best Red Bulls offense can be the Revs' defense.
New York can finally describe its recent winless streak in the past tense after collecting a 2-1 victory on Friday evening over the struggling New England Revolution. While the Revs opened the scoring in the first half, they did so for the wrong side as Cochrane deflected a Thierry Henry shot into the wrong net for an own goal.
Henry added an insurance goal in the 50' minute by dribbling past Cochrane on the right side and tapping a low shot inside the far post past Revs 'keeper Matt Reis. NE forward Zak Boggs answered Henry's goal moments later by picking up a Chris Tierney cross just to the right of the six-yard-box and shooting it to the left of a diving Greg Sutton for the Revs' only goal.
The win gives New York a 5-2-7 record and a one-point lead over the Philadelphia Union for first place in the Eastern Conference. The Union kick off on Saturday afternoon at home against Real Salt Lake.
It's How You Play the Game. New York managed an 11-point edge over the Revs on possession (55.8%-to-44.2%) and appeared to find the passing touch that gave opposing defenses fits earlier this season.
Despite that progress, the Red Bulls still struggled to provide sufficient service to the forwards up top and endured a great deal of pressure in the second half after New England reverted to a very-productive 4-4-2 formation.
The numbers will demonstrate how New York held on for the win, but Red Bulls coach Hans Backe should further emphasize cohesion on the pitch to convert the failed conversions of Friday's match into strong finishes going forward.
Play of the Game: Sutton's PK Save. Referee Terry Vaughn awarded the Revs with a penalty kick in the 33' minute after Red Bulls rookie defender Stephen Keel received a yellow card for bringing down Revs forward Rajko Lekic in the box. Revs midfielder and longtime RBNY pest Shalrie Joseph stepped up to the spot for the PK and aimed low and to the right -- and right into a diving Sutton.
Though the Revs only mustered four shots on target against NY, Sutton's save precluded his side from conceding yet another early lead and playing catch up. It notably changed the tempo on the pitch and the enthusiasm from the stands, which may have contributed to the flurry which resulted in Cochrane's own goal less than four minutes later.
If Sutton misses Joseph's kick, the headline involves the Red Bulls' troubles with dead balls. Instead, the headline involves Sutton putting his mark on the first Red Bulls win since April with a highlight reel save.
Maintaining the Middle Ground. The midfield duo of Joel Lindpere and Teemu Tainio dictated the pace for the Red Bulls on both ends of the ball. It just did not do enough to counter the inconsistent run of form that held back Mehdi Ballouchy and Austin da Luz.
Ballouchy's questionable touches on the ball culminated with his failure to redirect a pinpoint cross from Henry in the penalty box towards a wide open net in the 76' minute. Da Luz did not have so prominent a miss, but frequently struggled with his passing decisions and often put too much touch on the ball to the detriment of the Red Bulls' attack.
Shiny, Happy People. The announced attendance of 21,201 actually resembled the fans in the stands rather than approximation of tickets sold. The Red Bulls have seen the turnstiles spin a great deal lately, which has started to create a more energetic, soccer-friendly atmosphere at Red Bull Arena. It was a fitting sendoff as New York departs for a four-game road trip.
Change at the Top. Shortly before first kick, the Red Bulls announced that longtime NBA executive Chris Heck will join the organization as the club's President of Business Operations. Heck will replace Erik Stover, who is stepping down from the post after serving in the role since May 2008. Stover has overseen exponential growth in sponsorships and season ticket sales for New York and is often credited with playing a vital role in the Red Bulls' recruitment of Thierry Henry from Europe.
The Red Bulls will get their first glimpse of raucous JELD-WEN Field as they take the pitch against the expansion Portland Timbers on Father's Day. First kick is schedule for 10 p.m. on Sunday, June 19.