So all's quiet on the Red Bulls front for the time being, with the team not returning to play until next weekend. In an attempt to provide our fine readers with some content before the Sept. 15 against the Columbus Crew, here's a list of some of the "moments of the season." Maybe not the best moments, maybe not the worst, but some of the most important portions of the 2012 season that saw this team start slow, before thrusting themselves into the league's upper echelon.
So here they are. Feel free to ream me out in the comments if I've missed some.
Two goals in six minutes in the season opener against the Colorado Rapids
That sense of dread constantly in the back of Red Bulls fans always seem to have? That was cranked all the way up after two away losses kicked off the season in dismal fashion. Thankfully, for our mental health, it only took the Thierry Henry to open the scoring and Kenny Cooper a few more minutes to double the lead while opening his New York account.
Henry and Cooper would each net another goal, and the Red Bulls would claim a 4-1 win in their home opener and that constant sense of dread, naturally, was replaced with "HOW MUCH LONGER UNTIL THEY JUST GIVE US THE MLS CUP?"
Thankfully, going forward, the Red Bulls would be more like the team that came out that March afternoon than the team that was badly outplayed in Dallas and Salt Lake City.
Henry goes down against the New England Revolution
That impending sense of dread? Yeah, immediately back again after Henry suffers a hamstring injury. At this point, the Red Bulls had started to put something together, thrashing Colorado, the Montreal Impact and the Columbus before drawing the San Jose Earthquakes and losing to D.C. United. Taking Henry out of the line up was like taking the engine out of a car, nobody's going anywhere without him.
The Red Bulls kept trucking, though, hanging on to their 1-0 lead against the Revs, before recording two more cleansheets and beating the Philadelphia Union and Montreal Impact away, all without the help of their captain.
Red Bulls crash out of the U.S. Open Cup with a 3-1 loss to the Harrisburg City Islanders in extra time
No video for this one, thankfully, but...
Back to Harrisburg, and a handful of us walking the length of the pitch, up the sideline, past the scrambling, sweaty, thoroughly unprepared "security guards" - husky guys wearing oversize dayglo shirts that one might win as a prize for being the best breakdancer at a Bar Mitzvah - straight through the gate and toward the ramp to the RBNY changing room. As we approached, the door opened and the players filed out to meet us, in various states of undress, clearly forlorn, embarrassed and probably more than a bit surprised to see us, en masse, gathered before them. But, we weren't going to let them get on the bus without having our moment with them.
Frankly, I didn't know what I was going to say or do when we got there. Part of me, as well as several of the others with me, wanted to demand their shirts and excoriate them for losing to a 3rd division side in a year that we had our easiest path (maybe) ever to an Open Cup, but that idea melted away once I saw that our own frustration was reflected in the players' eyes. Each of them shook our hands, in some cases two or three times, thanked us for coming out and apologized, repeatedly, for letting us down. As I spoke with the players, I reminded them that there's now only one Cup left to play for this year, and we expect them to bring it home.
Yes, crashing out against a third division side isn't remotely a desired result, and certainly a bit embarrassing, but if there's one thing we've learned from this loss -- and their reported reaction -- is that the team cares about winning, in a similar, if more professional, way as the fans.
Brandon Barklage gets his revenge with two goals against D.C.
It's always nice when D.C. United loses, and even moreso when the Red Bulls are the ones doing the beating. And it's even better when the guy putting the ball in the back of the net is a D.C. castoff whose career figured to be over thanks to repeated ACL injuries.
But Barklage's career wasn't over, as United found out that Sunday night, with his scoring twice.
Tim Cahill draws a penalty against Tottenham Hotspur
Yes, it was a friendly and yes it was Cooper who converted the penalty, but that Tim Cahill was able to make an impact so early really marked his arrival in New York. Since, Cahill has assisted on two goals, scored one of his own and essentially forced an own goal against Sporting Kansas City.
Designated Player signing cans be hit-or-miss affairs -- see: Marquez, Rafael -- but the Red Bulls found the right kind of guy in Cahill.
Red Bulls come back down 2-0 to win, performance still not good enough
The Red Bulls go down 2-0, relatively quickly, to the Portland Timbers, but Cooper and Cahill goals before the first half ends levels the game. Then, late in the second half, the Red Bulls take the lead thanks to Heath Pearce and steal three points they really shouldn't have from the Timbers.
After the game, rather than talking up the victory as a triumph of teamwork and determination, the vibe from the locker room was that the performance wasn't good enough and a three goal comeback isn't the kind of thing this team should need to win.
Wilman Conde saves the point against DC
Some suspect goalkeeping put the Red Bulls down 2-1 to D.C., but this late strike from Conde -- whose apparently the solution at left back -- saved an important road point for the Red Bulls.
Bonus point, as usual, for stealing from United.