Luke Rodgers continued to show how integral he is to the New York attack by scoring the go-ahead goal as the Red Bulls beat the L.A. Galaxy 2-0 on Tuesday night.
Currently enjoying the best record in Major League Soccer, the L.A. Galaxy came to New York missing a few crucial pieces including Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, and Sean Franklin. Nevertheless, the Galaxy are a deep enough team that even missing players they are better than many opponents that the Red Bulls have come up short against this season.
Earning three points with a 2-0 win against Los Angeles and two matches remaining could be just enough to get the Red Bulls one of the four wild card playoff seeds at the very least. Tuesday night was a vast improvement from their last performance against Toronto FC as New York remained calm and poised but with more players involved in the attack and getting back to defend, particularly Teemu Tainio and Rafa Marquez. While ESPN commentator John Harkes was perplexed early on by the team's "lack of urgency," the Red Bulls were wisely patient and pulled ahead in the first half off a set piece(!). Joel Lindpere sent in a corner kick that Jan Gunnar Solli almost headed past Donovan Ricketts but Luke Rodgers was in the perfect position in front of the goal to one time the loose ball into into the back of the net.
On New York's second goal, Rafa Marquez played a great ball over the top to Thierry Henry who made a quick run and buried a shot off the far post - a feat he would attempt to recreate coming up the opposite side later in the match only to miss off the post. Marquez left the match to gracious applause in the 82' from fans who overwhelmingly booed him during his last home match against Real Salt Lake.
New York has conceded just one goal in their last three matches and have gone 2-1-0 with the centerback pairing of Tim Ream and Stephen Keel. Dane Richards, Joel Lindpere, and Dane Richards put in their usual solid performances. Jan Gunnar Solli was dangerous on the right wing and came very close to adding a third goal later in the second half, and this was New York's first win in league play with Rafa Marquez in the lineup since May.
While it wasn't a perfect performance, it's an important win that New York can build from as they have a week and a half break before traveling to Kansas City for their second to last game of the season. Is this the beginning of something good for New York or did the Red Bulls take advantage of a fatigued and shorthanded Galaxy side? What did you think of the match? Let us know in the comments below.