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New York Red Bulls' Defensive Problems Continue In Draw With Colorado Rapids

My feelings exactly, Thierry.
My feelings exactly, Thierry.

For the second home game in succession, the New York Red Bulls scored a pair of goals in the first half. However, they again failed to win despite their early offensive production. Just as against Chivas USA, the Red Bulls leveled twice shortly after falling behind to the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday night, but could not pick up the victory, and have now gone four games without a victory.

There were three changes to the Red Bulls side that drew 2-2 with the Houston Dynamo on Saturday. A fit-again Thierry Henry returned to the side in place of Juan Agudelo, Carlos Mendes replaced the injured Rafael Márquez, and Mehdi Ballouchy stepped into the right midfield spot as Dane Richards had already left to join up with the Jamaican national team for the Gold Cup.

The Red Bulls started brightly, attacking the goal in front of the South Ward during the opening half for the first time this season. Luke Rodgers and Thierry Henry each had half-chances from long balls in the early minutes, and the Red Bulls looked clearly on top for the first quarter-hour.

However, Colorado weathered that storm and set about creating opportunities of their own and imposing themselves on the game. Wells Thompson was particularly important in that regard, diving into several hard challenges for which he was extremely fortunate to only see a yellow card; his hard lunge from behind on Jan Gunnar Solli should have been worthy of a sending off, but Jorge Gonzalez only cautioned the American midfielder.

Despite the Red Bulls looking better in the opening exchanges, it was Colorado that produced the first goal. Anthony Wallace played a long crossfield ball from just past the halfway line towards the Red Bulls penalty area, where Roy Miller bumped into Andre Akpan as he went up for the header. Akpan made a meal of the contact, which occurred outside the penalty area, but Mr. Gonzalez pointed to the spot. Jeff Lawrentowicz stepped up to take the penalty, and while Greg Sutton was able to block the initial attempt, he parried it right back to Lawrentowicz, who slotted in at the second attempt and put Colorado ahead.

New York was level just two minutes later; Joel Lindpere played Dwayne De Rosario into the inside-left channel before the Canadian midfielder pulled the ball back to Thierry Henry, who fired in from just inside the D. Unfortunately, that parity didn't last long, as Lawrentowicz slotted in low past a disorganized wall from a soft free-kick about 25 yards from goal. Sutton was flat-footed, but the wall should have blocked the shot before it got anywhere near him.

Again, though, the Red Bulls equalized in short order. Henry played Luke Rodgers in on the left side of the penalty area, and the English striker deftly chipped the onrushing Matt Pickens to make it 2-2 on 33 minutes. Both sides had chances to claim a lead heading into halftime, with De Rosario forcing a good save from Pickens and Sanna Nyassi hitting the crossbar with a long range shot.

The second half was quite unlike the first: New York failed to demonstrate the same degree of urgency that they had showed after going behind, while Colorado only looked to come forward on the occasional dangerous counterattack. Rodgers had the best chance after the interval, but his shot was palmed away to safety by Pickens. Henry also had a few opportunities to score with his head in the waning minutes, but failed to connect.

Conor Casey's introduction nearly produced a winner for the Rapids, but Tim Ream stood tall in the Red Bulls defense and snuffed out several dangerous moves for Colorado. Although Hans Backe had all seven of his substitutes warming up on the sidelines, he waited until the 80th minute before telling Juan Agudelo to get stripped off, and then kept the American striker waiting in front of the Red Bulls bench (despite several chances to bring him on) until finally putting him in for Thierry Henry in the 87th minute. Unfortunately for the Red Bulls, that substitution was too little and too late; Casey fired the lone chance in stoppage time wide of Sutton's post, and the game finished 2-2 after a goalless second half.

Without three of Wednesday's starting XI heading off to the Gold Cup (plus Rafael Márquez, who was injured), the Red Bulls will have to turn the club's momentum around quickly, and on short rest. New York heads out to face the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday afternoon, with even more pressure on them to get back to winning ways.

Selected Statistics (NY-Colorado)

Possession: 62.2%-37.8%

Passing Accuracy: 82%-75%

Total Passes: 509-317

Corners: 4-3

Open Play Crosses: 28-9

Fouls Committed: 17-9

Shots (On Goal): 11(6)-16(10)