UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. — There's been some discussion about whether Tim Ream's goal-line clearance on Saturday should have actually been ruled a go-ahead goal for Landon Donovan and the LA Galaxy.
However, for Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe, Ream's 43rd-minute full-body extension and clearance of Donovan’s slow rolling shot — which helped preserve a 1-1 tie — isn't up for debate.
“We scanned it with the Pro Zone,” Backe said, referring to the match analysis software. “Watching it today, this morning, I can say almost 100 percent it wasn’t a goal.”
Backe said he's positive the referee and linesman made the right decision to not award the goal.
The moment happened soon after David Beckham's long ball from inside the midfield line went over the top of New York’s defense and into Donovan's perfectly timed run. With a touch off his thigh, Donovan rounded goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul and found an open net.
Donovan then soft-touched the ball from the top of the penalty area toward goal for what looked like a sure 2-1 lead for the Galaxy.
However, second-year defender Ream had other ideas.
“I kicked it into another gear,” Ream said. “I saw the ball wasn’t going quite as fast as he liked.”
As the ball rolled toward the goal, Ream extended his body to clear Donovan’s effort barely an inch before it fully crossed the line. After the game, both Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena and Donovan said they thought it was a goal.
Even during the moment, Ream wasn’t sure if he got it before the ball crossed the line.
“It was so close, I couldn’t tell you,” Ream said. “I thought they’d call it in because the linesman wasn’t in the right position.”
Game-changing moments aside, it was overall a solid night for Ream. The Red Bulls central defender and US international was smooth and precise on the ball, as always, and his positioning seemed to be a step ahead of the play.
Ream called it “the highest-level game I’ve been in in the league.”
But that one moment in the 43rd moment, which blended pure hustle and grit with skill, will live on in the franchise’s collective memory for years to come.
“I saw that the field was kind of sticky, that the ball held up,” Ream said. “I knew I had a shot at it.”
The Red Bulls have a friendly match Wednesday at Montreal and Backe anticipates most of his players will be available for the match.
However, Backe did rule out Luke Rodgers (dead leg) and Teemu Tainio (groin) from the match. On Tainio, Backe said he “will be ready for Sunday” when the Red Bulls take on Chivas USA at Red Bull Arena.
A question mark for the friendly is Rafa Márquez, who continues to have fluid in his knee.
“I’m not sure he can play,” Backe said of the friendly vs. the Impact. “We’ll decide Wednesday if he can go 45 minutes for us.”
Backe said that Greg Sutton and Juan Agudelo will likely go the full 90 minutes on Wednesday, as will “two to three academy players.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer