The New York Red Bulls opened the 2011 Emirates Cup on a positive note, defeating Paris Saint-Germain 1-0, thanks to a first half goal by Joel Lindpere. With Thierry Henry rested for tomorrow's match against Arsenal, the Red Bulls started in a 4-5-1 formation, with Juan Agudelo up top as a lone striker. Lindpere's goal came in the 28th minute, via a slick through pass from Agudelo. Lindpere timed his run through the center of PSG's defense perfectly and finished coolly past Salvatore Sirigu. Earlier in the game New York had appeals for a penalty waved away when Carlos Mendes was the victim of blatant shirt pulling on a corner kick opportunity.
The Red Bulls had the better of the play through the first half hour, only coming under occasional pressure. As halftime approached, PSG upped the tempo, but Tim Ream and Carlos Mendes dealt admirably with any threats. It must be noted that the French side looked remarkably sluggish and devoid of attacking ideas throughout the match, especially for a club that has had a massive injection of Qatari cash and a host of shiny new additions to the squad. Maybe that's why they're after Palermo's Javier Pastore.
New York was content to sit back in the second half, allowing PSG plenty of possession, but despite a few decent saves by Frank Rost there were few clear chances for either side. Dane Richards caused the Parisians some problems on the break, using his pace to get in behind the back line, but with little end product. After falling awkwardly, Agudelo was subbed off for Corey Hertzog in the second half, presumably a precautionary move. John Rooney made a late appearance, coming on in place of Chris Albright, and received some lighthearted jeers from the Arsenal faithful in attendance.
All in all it was a very tidy game by the Red Bulls, and Hans Backe has to be pleased with the defensive solidity that his team displayed, especially in the second half when PSG enjoyed the lion's share of possession. Viewers in the States got to enjoy the British announcers struggling with some of the Red Bulls players' names. To be fair, apart from Rafael Márquez, Henry and young Mr. Rooney there are few if any names in the New York squad that you'd expect the average English soccer fan to recognize.
If the Red Bulls can somehow manage against all odds to pull out a result against Arsenal tomorrow, they will return home with a meaningless trophy and - perhaps more importantly - a bit of confidence going into the business end of the MLS season. For now, it's fair to say that they've done nothing to embarrass themselves in London.