We broke the curse of Thierry Henry
Two things happened in 2010: the New York Red Bulls moved into a shiny new home in Harrison, and Thierry Henry showed up to become the best player the club had ever had in its oft-rebranded history.
And Henry has been fantastic for RBNY. Unfortunately, RBNY has not been so fantastic in the playoffs since the great man arrived. Especially at home.
2010: RBNY brings a 1-0 lead back home from San Jose, and gets rattled out of the postseason by a 3-1 loss at the Arena.
2011: RBNY beats FC Dallas on the road in the play-in game, then loses home and away to LA Galaxy in the next round.
2012: Hurricane Sandy and some snow forces a rescheduling, RBNY gets handed the "advantage" of playing the second leg of a two-game series against D.C. United at home. Brings a 1-1 draw back to Harrison, and loses 1-0 to an 88th minute goal.
2013: After a 2-2 tie in Houston, RBNY gives up the second leg at home to an extra-time match-winner from Omar Cummings.
The Red Bulls had never won a home playoff game with Henry in the team. But that curse was broken on October 30, 2014 in the 90th minute by a comically bad cross from Ambroise Oyongo and an off-the-post header from Bradley Wright-Phillips.
2-1 to the home team. RBNY won at the Arena in a playoff game. And Thierry Henry was playing.
In the greater scheme of things, it's a small victory. But it's also a big one. The team's postseason, Henry-era, home-game hex looked set to be an unsightly blot on an otherwise successful spell since the captain signed up.
And now the hex is broken.
There are a few bigger challenges RBNY consistently flubs - but at least it is still alive in this year's playoffs to confront them.
All hail Peguy Luyindula
When he's on form, Luyindula is the best creative central midfielder available to RBNY. Better than Thierry Henry? Yes, because Henry doesn't have the option of passing to himself.
Luyindula had edged himself back in to the starting lineup toward the end of the season, and then found himself edged out after twice getting bullied out of games. But he's still a helluva creative player, and he did exactly what Mike Petke hoped for when called off the bench in the 65th minute.
Passing through a web of defenders to find Henry created the opportunity for BWP's equalizer. He did even better to shimmy out of a challenge and thread a long pass along the ground for Ambroise Oyongo to issue the best bad cross in the history of the New York Red Bulls.
Thank you, Volker Finke
Speaking of Oyongo, he was Petke's second substitution - brought on in the 75th minute for Richard Eckersley. Oyongo at right back for the most important 15 minutes of the season?
Yep. He's played there before. Most recently, for his country. Mike Petke mentioned he'd watched a bit of Oyongo's last game for Cameroon, and had been impressed by the sight of his left-sided rising star as a starting right back.
In a pinch, needing as much creativity and attacking ability as possible, Petke reached for the example set by Cameroon's head coach. And as a right back, Oyongo made a cross so bad he'd love to forget it, and so important he'll never be allowed to do so.
Thank you, Volker Finke - we needed that.