If you said the season was over after Thierry Henry came off in the first half against the New England Revolution in April, no one would blame you. In the seven games leading up to the Revs tie, Henry practically was the team, with eight goals in seven game and added another before he strained his hamstring.
To compound the issue, Wilman Conde, Stephen Keel, Juan Agudelo, Teemu Tainio and Roy Miller all suffered injuries and Rafael Marquez got suspended. All of them were out for a portion of the last five games Henry missed.
What followed was completely unexpected. Three straight clean sheets, keeping the Revs off the board before shutting out the LA Galaxy and the Houston Dynamo. Then they went down to Chester and got their first win on the Philadelphia Union's home field and last night they battled back to secure three points against the Montreal Impact despite being down to 10 men.
With Henry scheduled to come back next week and the addition of Heath Pearce fans can exhale a little, but before the now awkward mid-week match-up against Chivas USA, let's take a look back at the team's stunningly un-Metro-like run.
Goals For: 8
The team that looked more like the New York Thierry Henrys rather than the New York Red Bulls found scoring from Kenny Cooper (3), Joel Lindpere (2) , Markus Holgersson and Dane Richards. Henry scored the lone goal in the game against the Revs. Backe said he wants more production from the wings. Well, he's starting to get it.
Goals Against: 3
Possibly more surprising than the guys putting the ball in the back of the net were the guys defending on the other side of the field. The back line in the first seven games leaked like a sieve, letting in 14. The team relied on it's attacking prowess to keep them in games. But guys like Connor Lade, Brandon Barklage and Tyler Ruthven stepped in and proved their worth.
Points in the Last Five: 15
Despite, the expected underachieving, most expected the Bulls to make it to the playoffs on simply on talent with the East looking pretty weak outside of Sporting Kansas City. A team with Henry, Marquez and [THIRD DESIGNATED PLAYER] doesn't just...lose. The 15 points earned over the last five vaulted the team from third place, behind D.C. United of all teams, to the top of the conference.
Point Total: 25
Before Henry went down the team was in decent standing: Third place, as noted above. At the start of the season the most optimistic of Red Bulls watchers wouldn't put the team in the Supporters Shield race, despite the advantage an unbalanced schedule gives the team and even the most delusional bright side lookers would expect the team to stay in contention after the rash of injuries. But here they are, second place overall, with a game in hand on Real Salt Lake, whom they sit one point behind.
Teams Left in the U.S. Open Cup with the Red Bulls Enter: 32
To call the new found depth the long term revelation from these last five games would be a little ridiculous, since you want to accumulate as many points as possible and those 15 will almost certainly prove useful down the line. But with Hans Backe seemingly committed to the Open Cup, Guys like Barklage, Lade and Ruthven will prove useful if the Backe and the boys make a run in the tournament.