The New York Red Bulls had a chance on Wednesday night to clinch a spot in the 2015 MLS PLayoffs with a win over the New England Revolution. They failed at that, and with an Orlando City SC win, were again forced to win if they wanted to clinch a playoff spot this week. With Dax McCarty and Connor Lade suspended after the New England match, the outlook for a win was dampened a little bit, especially with a cross country flight in the cards.
The Red Bulls came out of the gates flying though, with summer acquisitions Gonzalo Veron and Shaun Wright-Phillips taking on the wing positions (spelling Lloyd Sam and Mike Grella) and showed that they should be playing significant minutes. Veron's footwork sprung more than one attack and Shaun Wright-Phillips kept a few attacks from fizzling out. The biggest problem early on was finishing, and not just for the Red Bulls.
Multiple attempts from Portland would've found the back of the net, if the shots had just been on target. Multiple balls skimmed the cross bar or side netting in a futile attempt to give the home side the lead. The Red Bulls wouldn't let those missed opportunities go for too long. In the 43rd minute, off of a quick throw-in, Felipe Martins was left alone as he walked the ball toward the center of the field, and then decided just to let one rip, and what a rip it was.
Damien Perrinelle added to it a few minutes later in first half stoppage time with a header off of a Veron cross. That would prove to be all that was needed. The second half saw a lot of action, including an amazing double save by Luis Robles to keep the Timbers off the board. For all of the Timbers' attacking (17 total shots) they were not able to break through.
The win marks the Red Bulls' 14th of the season, but more importantly, it clinches the team a playoff spot in the middle of September. They are the first team in 2015 to make the postseason, and currently are now first in the Eastern Conference (1 point ahead of Columbus Crew SC) and tied for the Supporters' Shield (with Vancouver Whitecaps FC) at 48 points.
There's not much to say, just enjoy this.
So, uh, Luis Robles is having a pretty good day pic.twitter.com/sKLwn6J41O— Jeremiah Oshan (@JeremiahOshan) September 20, 2015
That was a monster strike by Felipe. That ball just kept rising until it needed to dip to get below the bar. The play actually started with Jesse Marsch. The Red Bulls had earned a throw in and Marsch got his team to quickly get the ball into play. That caught the Timbers off guard as they took a moment off. Felipe was not pressured and it allowed him to take that shot.
Western Woes No More
This match was the first time that the Red Bulls won on the West coast. It may not seem like much but if the Red Bulls make the MLS Cup Final, they may have to play out west. It's better to get that monkey off their back now instead of it becoming a talking point if they advance.