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Ten-Man Red Bulls Come Back To Draw With FC Dallas

The captain saved us yet again on Saturday evening.
The captain saved us yet again on Saturday evening.

The New York Red Bulls failed to win for the fifth game in succession on Saturday night, but will probably be pleased to take a point from their match against FC Dallas after trailing with ten men in the waning minutes. New York threw away a 1-0 halftime lead and needed a moment of magic from Thierry Henry to salvage the draw, their twelfth in twenty-three games this season.

The Red Bulls starting XI was nearly identical to the lineup that lost 4-1 to Colorado in midweek, with the return of Rafael Márquez in place of Carlos Mendes the lone change. Hans Backe returned to an orthodox 4-4-2, with Mehdi Ballouchy moving out to the left side of midfield, Joel Lindpere in the middle alongside Dax McCarty, and Thierry Henry up top next to Juan Agudelo.

New York looked positive during a generally underwhelming first half, with the supporters' groups silent protest taking much (but by no means all) of the energy out of Red Bull Arena. Dallas rarely threatened Frank Rost's goal and didn't manage a single shot in the first forty-five minutes. The two sides tried to press the other, which tended to cancel out the possession style generally used by both of them. The Red Bulls had slightly the better of the chances, with Dane Richards particularly wasteful in front of goal.

New York finally managed to take one of the opportunities they created just before halftime, as Dane Richards passed to Agudelo, who was just inside the penalty area, before the young American striker fluked a chip over the arms of Kevin Hartman and into the opposite side of the net. While the Red Bulls deserved their lead, it was more than a bit fortunate.

However, as has been so common for the Red Bulls this season, they came out with much less intensity in the second half, and were immediately made to pay for it. While only the players can explain the consistency of their poor starts to the second half, simple fatigue was likely the cause on this occasion.

As it was, Dallas looked better after the break and were quickly level, Ricardo Villar finding Marvin Chávez unmarked just inside the box; the Honduran took a touch, turned and blasted in for 1-1.

The visitors could have been ahead just minutes later, as Rost denied Chávez from just yards in front of goal. The back-and-forth continued with a chance from distance down the other end for Dane Richards, who crashed a shot against the post from about thirty yards.

Dallas quickly re-took the initiative and again spurned a brilliant opportunity right in front of goal as Brek Shea somehow contrived to send a Chávez cross over the bar from just four yards out. They should have been made to rue that missed opportunity shortly after, as Jair Benitez handled in the box, but referee Jorge Gonzalez did not point to the spot. The visitors took full advantage of their luck with just over ten minutes to play, as a wide open Chávez half-volleyed a bouncing ball into the corner of the net from just inside the box.

A bad situation for New York got worse almost immediately, as Dane Richards was given a very soft second yellow for possibly clipping Bruno Guarda, who went down quite easily. Finally, in the eighty-second minute, Hans Backe decided to make a substitution, bringing on right back Chris Albright for the typically listless Mehdi Ballouchy, pushing Jan Gunnar Solli up into the midfield.

The Red Bulls didn't create much after going behind and down a man, but got out of jail thanks to a moment of brilliance from Thierry Henry. After taking down a high pass from Dax McCarty outside the left corner of the penalty area, Henry created a bit of space with some lovely footwork before curling the ball into the corner, leaving Hartman no chance.

Even down to ten men, the Red Bulls looked for a winner after Henry had pulled them level, and nearly got one from the spot as Agudelo was barged into just inside the box, but Mr. Gonzalez elected to book the New York striker instead of pointing to the spot.

Another draw for the Red Bulls leaves them on thirty points, seven points fewer than through the same number of games last season