The New York Red Bulls came into tonight's match against Chivas USA desperate for three points. Despite their shock 3-2 defeat of New York back in May, Chivas is a team that New York should have expected to defeat, given the array of talent at their disposal and the presence of newly-signed Bundesliga veteran goalkeeper Frank Rost in between the pipes. That they were forced to depart the Home Depot Center with yet another draw is a major indictment of Hans Backe. Blessed with one of the strongest squads in Major League Soccer, he has frittered away result after result. New York still clings desperately to the top of the Eastern Conference, thanks to the failings of the clubs around them, but it could (should?) have been so much easier.
In a first half played largely in midfield, there were just a few chances to either side. Joel Lindpere had a hard shot well saved by Dan Kennedy after Michael Lahoud misjudged a ball in the 21st minute. Lahoud would later be substituted early by Robin Fraser (yes, Hans, you can make substitutions before the 88th minute). Ten minutes later Jan Gunnar Solli struck the crossbar after receiving the ball 25 yards out and taking a rip. Chivas would return the favor before halftime, when Sueño MLS star Jorge Flores rattled the Red Bulls goal after a giveaway in midfield by Thierry Henry, who was dropping deep all night long, with mixed results.
New York came out flat again after the half and allowed Chivas a good spell of possession. The Red Bulls, however, remained well-organized and snuffed out a number of threats. Rost was never seriously tested on the night, and in fact he mist be wondering what he's gotten himself into after the dismal display by the two teams, one of three scoreless draws on the night (you may want to look into that, Don). Later, New York had a number of chances, but none of them were especially threatening. Agudelo shot directly at Kennedy before Teemu Tainio's late half volley went wide of the mark. Near the death there was a scare for Red Bulls fans, when the match referee, Mark Kadlecik, consulted with his linesman before (whew!) ruling that Carlos Mendes had not handled the ball in his own 18 yard box. Finally, Agudelo came close to putting one past the Goats, only to see his shot dribble wide of the post.
Henry and Agudelo never managed to get on the same page in a game that will be massively frustrating for Red Bulls fans hoping for a boost after a turbulent week and a new designated player signing. It's eleven draws on the season now for New York, who continue to drift further and further away from the Supporters' Shield and must be wondering if they will even be able to hold on to a playoff spot. One piece of advice for Hans Backe: rent, don't buy.