This is officially a weird season for the New York Red Bulls. For the third match in a row, an inexperienced backline has recorded a clean sheet, while without Thierry Henry New York has still found a way to the back of the net, as Kenny Cooper picked up another goal to continue his fantastic start to the season. The 1-0 win moves the Red Bulls into second place in the Eastern Conference, a point ahead of D.C. United with a game in hand on The Great Satan.
Hans Backe decided not to mess with a winning formula, naming the same starting XI that hung on to beat LA on Saturday. Mehdi Ballouchy was supposed to play behind Cooper in a 4-4-1-1, but the formation looked more like an attacking 4-5-1, with the fullbacks and central midfielders pushing up in attack.
New York started well, and were rewarded for their enterprising approach in the seventh minute. Kenny Cooper received the ball just outside the box and tried to beat a couple of defenders, but had it knocked away towards Corey Ashe, who played a weak backpass to Tally Hall. Cooper chased down that pass, and as Hall tried to clear it, he kicked it off Cooper and into the back of the net for the opening goal. Cooper was slightly fortunate to be credited with his fifth goal of the season, but probably deserved it for aggressively closing down the Dynamo goalkeeper.
Houston rebounded well after going down a goal, and had the better of the play for the remainder of the first half. The Dynamo pressed well in midfield, denying the New York players time on the ball to pick their passes out of defense. However, the Red Bulls were solid at the back, and while the fullbacks allowed a lot of crosses into the box, the central defense was quite solid and dealt with most of those aerials balls very well.
The second half featured plenty of chances at both ends, including a pair for Juan Agudelo, who made his first home appearance of the season, replacing Mehdi Ballouchy in a surprisingly aggressive half-time substitution. Brad Davis had several opportunities down the North end of Red Bull Arena, including a good headed chance and a couple of long shots, but failed to finish any of them.
New York's busy week on the pitch continues on Sunday with a half-twelve kickoff at home against the Philadelphia Union. Off the pitch, we may be about to sign the entire AC Milan Geriatric XI...more to come on this as it is announced.
Selected Stats (NY - HOU)
Possession: 47% - 53%
Passing Accuracy: 78% - 80%
Total Passes: 397 - 427
Corners: 1 - 5
Open Play Crosses: 10 - 30
Fouls: 12 - 6
Shots (On Goal): 12(3) - 14(3)