File Photo: Vera / DailyHarrison.com
The remarkable run of the New York Red Bulls continued Saturday night, when Dane Richards’ goal in the 67th minute snapped a 1-1 tie to give the Red Bulls a 2-1 win over the Montreal Impact in Olympic Stadium.
The win was the fifth straight for the first-place Red Bulls (8-3-1), tying the franchise record for consecutive wins. The former MetroStars won five consecutive matches in April-May of 2003.
What makes this latest win even more incredible is that the Red Bulls had to pull out the win playing with 10 men. Victor Palsson received his second yellow card of the match in the 58th minute, causing his red card ejection.
However, the Red Bulls got the game-winner after Palsson received the red card.
Joel Lindpere made a run up the right flank and touched it into the corner to Roy Miller, who snuck up to the offensive fray from his defender slot. Miller sent the ball across and Impact goalie Donovan Ricketts made a stop, but the rebound from the play caromed out to Richards, who blasted it home for his first goal of the season and the 2-1 lead.
Because Ricketts had touched the ball, neither Lindpere nor Miller received official assists on the play, but they certainly made the play happen.
The goal was enough for rookie net minder Ryan Meara to earn the victory. Meara has been steadfast and strong in all five victories and Saturday night was no exception, making five saves.
“It was an entire team effort,” Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe told MSG Network reporter Tina Cervasio after the game. “I can’t single out one player. They were all phenomenal. To come from behind and then win the game down a man is truly extraordinary.”
Montreal (3-6-3) got on the board first on a highly questionable call by rookie referee Ismael Elfath, making his MLS debut as a head referee.
The Impact tried to get the ball in front of the goal in the 22nd minute, when Red Bulls defender Markus Holgersson inadvertently touched the ball with what appeared to be his right shoulder. Elfath ruled that the play was somehow worthy of a penalty kick and Bernardo Corradi connected on the free shot, giving the Impact an early 1-0 lead.
“I can’t remember seeing their penalty,” said Red Bulls forward Kenny Cooper.
Luckily for Cooper, the Red Bulls were the beneficiary of another questionable call from Elfath.
In the 37th minute, Richards made a move toward the goal and took a shot that appeared to glance off Impact defender Tyson Wahl. Elfath called another hand ball in the box, awarding a penalty kick to the Red Bulls. Cooper lined up to take the free shot and did a little hesitation move before blasting the ball high into the right corner of the goal past Ricketts for the game-tying score.
It was Cooper’s 10th goal of the season, good for second in the MLS scoring race behind Chris Wondolowski of San Jose.
“Fortunately, we ended up getting one,” said Cooper, who remains the team’s lone true offensive scoring threat with Thierry Henry out of the lineup with a strained hamstring. “We were able to get another one being down a man. Dane made a great play following the shot. He’s done a lot of work. He’s really fast and you can always count on him buzzing up and down the field.”
The Red Bulls did welcome newcomer Heath Pearce into the lineup, with Pearce playing the full 90 minutes at defender. Rookie Connor Lade played a solid game at defender.
“We have really good team morale right now,” said Lade, the New Jersey native who is becoming a major part of the Red Bulls’ defense. “This was huge. We’re really happy with the way we’re playing right now, able to get five in a row. The chemistry is very good. Being a young player, I just want to do whatever I can, play hard every play. Losing a player like that, we had to bear down and stay with it.”
The Red Bulls return to action Wednesday night at Red Bull Arena, when they play host to Chivas USA and welcome back former standout strikers Juan Pablo Angel and recently traded Juan Agudelo. Game time is 7 p.m.