In this Saturday's match, Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara will be facing another fellow Rookie of the Year contender in New England Revolution's midfielder Kelyn Rowe. Last week, Meara went up against D.C. United's impact rookie Nick DeLeon, and in consecutive matches, Meara will be looking to stop the threat of another talented youngster. Both Meara and Rowe have been immediately integrated into their respective lineups—both of whom have started every match.
After the team's training session at Red Bull Arena Thursday, Red Bulls captain Thierry Henry reiterated his belief and confidence in the team's goalkeeper.
“I think a lot of the goals we’ve conceded have nothing to do with him," Henry said "Having said that, if he wasn’t there sometimes, it would’ve been more. We wouldn’t have won some of the games, if he wasn’t there. I think he’s doing a brilliant job. It’s hard to say that because we are conceding. He can’t all the time save us and stop everything that’s coming his way."
Henry understands the frustration goalkeepers experience when conceding goals, but he is keeping a broader perspective for Meara.
"I think you have to give him credit," he said. "It’s not the best way for him starting, but I think he’s shown that he can be the goalkeeper for this team for a very long time, and that’s the most important thing. I know he must be upset when we’re going home and conceding some goals, but on a personal point-of-view for him, I don’t think he’s doing badly."
This past January, Meara was selected 31st overall in the SuperDraft out of Fordham University, and since his professional debut at FC Dallas Stadium on opening day, he's shown he can play at this level. UCLA product Rowe was the third overall pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft after playing two seasons with the Bruins.
Meara currently sits in the top five for total saves this season (25). Only Colorado's Matt Pickens (26) and Salt Lake's Nick Rimando (29) have more saves. Meara nearly completed his first clean sheet on the road in New York's 4-1 win at Crew Stadium after making crucial saves throughout the match before a late goal slipped past.
Rookies have clearly enjoyed the big stage this season. Just as DeLeon scored his MLS debut goal against the defending champions LA Galaxy, Rowe scored a crucial goal to lead New England to a 3-1 victory at the Home Depot Center at the end of March.
Backe on Rowe
Head coach Hans Backe is aware of the threat and influence rookies are having on the league, and he's been impressed with the impact Rowe has made. According to Backe, the first batch of players in the draft always show high quality.
"He's done well," Backe said. "Both DeLeon in D.C. and Rowe has done well. They're probably the two guys that I've been most impressed with. If you can pick in between the first seven guys, you will get good guys in, then I think it drops after the seventh, eighth pick. Up to seven, eight, there are good players."
Watch Meara rob fellow rookie DeLeon in the second half at RFK Stadium last week:
Watch Rowe's debut goal in New England's road win in LA:
With the aide of OPTA analytics, MLSsoccer.com has been featuring various points of analysis at the beginning of each week. In the second installment of the OPTA Spotlight, you can take a closer look at the 14-goal haul of Red Bulls striking duo Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper.
The success up front for New York is largely attributed to tidy finishing inside the 18-yard box. The Red Bulls have a 48.4% shooting efficiency—scoring 14 goals from just 30 shots. The next team in line, last Saturday's opponent San Jose Earthquakes, have a 24.3% shooting efficiency. Simply put, no one has come close to New York's accuracy in front of goal.
A high shooting efficiency can also be translated to 'minimum wasted chances'. Cooper currently leads the league in efficiency inside the box. He's scored six goals in eight attempts; the goal appears a lot larger in his eyes once he gets in the 18.
Since the start of the 2011 season, the report put out by MLS shows the Red Bulls lead the league in goals to shots ratio inside the box (24.9%)—2.5% over LA. With the team's shooting accuracy at these rates, it's no surprise when Red Bull Arena rises when Henry or Cooper receives the ball inside the box. The next time you're talking soccer with your friends, make sure you whip out a few of these eyebrow-raising statistics. Surely they'll be impressed.
Once again rookie goalkeeper Ryan Meara features in the MLS Save of the Week! After a whipped-in Marvin Chavez corner kick, Meara was forced to make a stunning reaction save after a moment of miscommunication between the Red Bulls defenders. Check out the other nominees below, and be sure to cast your vote for Meara. Voting runs until 11:59 pm PT on Thursday.
Whether home or away, New York's goals continue to flow.
When the final whistle blew at Crew Stadium Saturday afternoon, the New York Red Bulls' striking partnership of Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper went one and two, respectively, at the top of the MLS goalscoring charts. Henry's second brace of the season puts him at the top with seven, while Cooper's first-half brace, and second of the season, puts him a goal behind New York's captain.
Just three minutes into the match, after receiving a pass from Cooper, Henry floated a ball back that found his fellow forward's chest. With his back to goal, Cooper was given sufficient space to turn and place his left-footed shot past Columbus keeper Danny Gruenebaum. The goal was his fifth of the season and placed him in a tie with Henry.
Ten minutes later, Cooper did it again - this time with his head. The forward's second goal of the match was a sneaky one that developed after a beautiful exchange of play between Dax McCarty, Mehdi Ballouchy and Roy Miller on the left flank. Richards' shot deflected off the Columbus defense, finding a goal-hungry Cooper who rose to make enough connection on the ball for it to trickle into the side netting.
Cooper would be alone on top of the MLS goalscoring charts for just 27 minutes. In the 40th minute, Roy Miller slotted captain Henry through inside the 18. Henry opened his body, sliding the ball past a hopeless Gruenebaum to give New York a 3-0 lead before referee Mark Kadlecik whistled for half.
After Columbus had the majority of chances in the second half, they were rewarded with a consolation goal off a header from Chad Marshall. The Crew's celebration lasted only a few seconds. Henry responded with a vengeance by bringing a Joel Lindpere cross down to volley into the top-right corner, scoring his league-leading seventh goal of the season and sealing New York's 4-1 victory.
Henry and Cooper have firmly established themselves as the deadliest striking pair in the league. Together they have combined for 13 goals after five matches. At the time of the final whistle, that's more than any team has scored in the league. Enjoy both players' braces below!
The Red Bulls continue to move up the ladder in league power rankings across the country. In the week 4 addition of MLSsoccer.com's power rankings, New York sits in the top half of the table. Here's what they had to say:
"Thierry Henry is in filthy form. More important is that Ryan Meara let in two fairly soft goals, but bounced back immediately for a strong second half. A rookie 'keeper with that mindset can take a team places, even if the defense struggles."
There's little surprise in Kansas City retaining the top seed, becoming the only team in the league with a perfect record after they edged out Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center Sunday evening. Kansas City has conceded just one goal in their first four matches. Having lost two home matches, LA surprisingly sits in the sixth slot. In 2011, the Galaxy had an undefeated home campaign, and after playing three matches this season, they've dropped two at the Home Depot Center. The Red Bulls have won their first two home matches in convincing fashion, putting in nine goals, yet LA sits two spots above New York, and even more places on other sites. This is the head-scratcher of the week.
Check out how others rate the team's recent success:
Jeff Carlisle at ESPN Soccernet put two-and-two together. He has New York sitting above LA.
ESPN Soccernet: 7 (9)
"That's nine goals in two games for the Red Bulls following their 5-2 win over Montreal, with Thierry Henry netting a hat trick Saturday. But for all the good feelings emanating from Red Bull Arena, New York's defense still looks unconvincing."
Note: Sports Illustrated included Thierry Henry in their MLS Team of the Week for consecutive weeks.
Sports Illustrated: 9 (12)
"Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper have spearheaded an offensive juggernaut over the last two matches, combining for eight goals in that time, but the club can't afford to have them slow down. Not with Luke Rodgers' visa being denied and Juan Agudelo on the shelf with a torn meniscus. There's reason for optimism at Red Bull Arena, but it should be tempered, especially with integral center back Wilman Conde limping off following the 5-2 thrashing of Montreal."
Soccer By Ives: 6 (11)
"For a while Saturday, it looked as if the Red Bulls were returning to their lackluster ways. But Thierry Henry's hat trick more than made up for some early defensive lapses, including a particularly glaring error by Markus Holgersson. The groin injury that took Rafa Marquez out at halftime will be worth keeping an eye on."
Now that you've seen how the Red Bulls are ranking in the media's eyes, let us know what you think in the comments below.
After last week's brace it may be hard to believe Thierry Henry could better the performance he put out against Colorado, but that's just what the Red Bulls captain did. Henry became the first New York player to score a hat trick since Oct. 14, 2006 when Amado Guevara put in three against Kansas City at Giants Stadium.
In the 28th minute, Henry anticipated a well-placed cross from Rafa Marquez in open play to head past Montreal veteran goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts. His first goal of the match leveled Sanna Nyassi's opening goal nine minutes prior.
After New York midfielder Dax McCarty played his captain in on top of the box, Henry took a touch away from Montreal's defenders with his left foot to set up a shot he cranked in with his right foot that slipped in Ricketts' near post to give the Red Bulls a 3-2 advantage. Just as he did last week against Colorado, Henry scored shortly after the break to give New York the 3-2 lead.
With the Red Bulls ahead 4-2, Henry showed his hunger for goal as he completed his hat trick with a tap-in after Ricketts' spilled Kenny Cooper's initial shot from well outside the box. Henry was quick to jump on the ball and bury his milestone tally.
Henry's contribution didn't end with his goals either. Again, like last week's home opener against the Rapids, Henry had a classy assist in Saturday's match against Montreal. Red Bulls right back Jan Gunnar Solli took the ball to the end line, finding Henry, who noticed teammate Mehdi Ballouchy's run. Henry's crafty pass found Ballouchy's feet, showing the pure skill that soccer fans around the world have come to label as "patented Henry."
Incredibly, the Red Bulls captain has played a part in eight of the 10 goals the team has scored this season. The only exceptions being today's penalty kick, which was slotted in coolly by Cooper, and the fourth goal Cooper scored against Colorado on a Roy Miller cross in the home opener.
Henry's repeat performances take him to a staggering five goals and three assists this season, with all but one assist coming in the past two matches.
Sit back and watch Henry's first hat trick for the Red Bulls here. It can't hurt to relive last week's brace either.
Not only did the Red Bulls get their first victory of the 2012 MLS season Sunday, they also jumped three spots in MLSsoccer.com's weekly power rankings. Here's what they had to say:
"If you get gifted with an opponent that's missing its three best players, then you need to take advantage. That's exactly what New York did in pummelling Colorado on Sunday. Next step is doing it against a full strength Impact on the weekend."
Check out how others rate the team's recent success:
ESPN Soccernet: 9 (12)
"The Red Bulls were beneficiaries of Colorado's largesse in winning 4-1, but they also benefited from the insertions of Kenny Cooper, Rafa Marquez and Wilman Conde into the starting lineup, with Conde doing plenty to solidify New York's defense."
Sports Illustrated: 12 (12)
"We've seen this before from the Henry-era Red Bulls -- horrendous one game, impressive the next. Finding that consistency will be the challenge now that the club's major players (save for Luke Rodgers' visa issues and injured Juan Agudelo) are ready to contribute."
Also on Sports Illustrated, defender Wilman Conde and forward Thierry Henry made the MLS team of the week.
Does it get any better than this? Thierry Henry opens his 2012 MLS campaign in style. His goal came within the first three minutes of the Red Bulls' home opener against the Colorado Rapids. The Red Bulls' high pressure was rewarded, and Henry's left-footed shot from the center of the box slipped by Colorado keeper Matt Pickens. He later added his second of the match in the 53rd minute to give the Red Bulls a 3-0 lead. Watch both of his goals below.
In the wake of an opening day defeat at the hands of FC Dallas, Red Bulls captain Thierry Henry was adamant that teamwork and unity, on and off the field, will be the key to New York's success this season.
"This is not my team, this is our team, " Henry said after Wednesday's training session at Montclair State University. "It is a team effort when you win the game, nothing to do with the individual."
Having assisted Kenny Cooper's goal, Henry has already shown his contribution that stretches far beyond an extravagant goal tally. Cooper made smart, cutting runs behind the defense as soon as he was subbed in. Henry saw an opening and played an effectively weighted through ball for Cooper to lob past Dallas keeper Kevin Hartman.
"The team brings you somewhere, then the individual takes control in the last minute, not at the beginning," Henry said. "Individuals every now and then step up, but other than that, it's got to be a team effort, and I've said it for a very long time. Everybody from Fernando the kit man to us has to pull the same weight."
The club will look to show the qualities Henry emphasized this Saturday against a resurgent Real Salt Lake side that is coming off an impressive come-from-behind, 3-1 victory over the defending champion LA Galaxy.
Saturday's match also marks the first regular season broadcast on MSG+. Keep an eye out for special promo codes throughout the match for your chance to Watch and Win. More info available here.
MLSsoccer.com has launched the new MLS Matchday 2012 apps for iPhone/iPad and Android formats.
MLS MatchDay 2012 is the official app for Major League Soccer and the destination for everything MLS including live scores and play-by-play of every match. The app is the perfect tool for the fan who is on the way to the game, commuting home from work or watching from the comfort of the couch.
Once you download the app, you will be asked to select your club (this should be an easy one guys). After selecting New York Red Bulls, you can opt to receive personalized alerts for the club, individual matches and specific match event information.
Some of the new, exciting and interactive features you can expect include 230 live streaming matches with MLS LIVE, a revamped Matchcenter with starting formations and match statistics, club-by-club tweet streams, free individual highlight moments and free complete match highlights. You can customize the app by accessing the Red Bulls schedule, breaking news alerts, chants, tweets, rosters, featured video and news.
Here are some other features you can expect to enjoy with the app:
• iPhone users can stream video to AppleTV with AirPlay
• Follow CONCACAF Champions League, US Open Cup and World Football Challenge
• Featured Video Channels including AT&T Goal of the Week, The Daily and The Review Show
Each club page provides updates including breaking news, match starts, halftime updates, full-time recaps, goals, misconduct alerts and subs. You can choose which updates you want, and always add or remove more throughout the season. So, if you only want to know who’s racking up the cards during the season, go for it! If you want to soak up all the information possible, select them all! By clicking on the club crest and name at the top of the homepage, a dropdown menu appears with the following options: schedules, chants, tweets, rosters, news, and videos.
It probably goes without saying, but there's no need to keep last year's app on your device. Delete that off whatever device or devices you use before upgrading to MLS MatchDay 2012.
All national broadcast matches on NBC Sports, ESPN and Telefutura/Galavision will not be streamed live on the app. Also, local broadcasts are also blacked out in the local market in most MLS cities. For more information on Blackout Regulations visit http://www.mlssoccer.com/blackout