Perhaps Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles was already thinking “dive right” when Federico Higuain lined up for a penalty kick in the 73rd minute of Saturday’s match. After all, there couldn’t have been a more crucial moment up until that point as both teams remained locked in a scoreless draw. Guessing right to make the save could be the deciding factor in New York getting a result on the road, or going home empty handed.
Or maybe he saw a little something on Higuain’s approach that suggested the kick would go to his right. A stutter step? A turn of the hip?
Let’s go to the video tape.
“Before the game, [Red Bulls Performance Analyst] David Lee had mentioned that he took a PK last week and so we watched it and the only thing we wanted to pay attention to was any stutter,” Robles said after Monday’s training session. “That was important, because I think if you don’t know that going before the PK, you might give away where you’re going. So when he did do the stutter, the most important thing was just kind of wait. And that’s exactly what I did.”
“I think for me the most important thing was just to know his approach,” Robles added. “And since he mimicked the same approach with D.C., I just felt comfortable going to my right.”
Robles’ clutch save was timed perfectly, as he parried away Higuain’s attempt to keep the Red Bulls level with the Crew. The stop helped New York stay in the running for at least the possibility of earning a point on the road, which would eventually turn to higher hopes for three points when Tim Cahill headed home the go-ahead goal in the 80th minute.
But it wasn’t without a little bit of a scare coming in the form of that PK attempt. Even defender Brandon Barklage, whose slide tackle on Eddie Gaven led to the call, took to Twitter after the match to express his relief:
“…at the end of the day I think we did a great job of not only reacting to the situations where there was set pieces or even a case like that,” Robles said. “Last week I made a huge mistake and Tim bailed me out. And this week it was the same thing – when someone makes a mistake, when we bail each other out, if we keep doing that throughout the season I think we’re going to be pretty successful.”
The 1-0 victory propelled New York into a four-way tie with Sporting KC, the Houston Dynamo, and Montreal Impact for first-place in the East. The latter of those teams comes to Red Bull Arena Wednesday night for a 7:30 PM kick off.
What’s more, the Red Bulls’ victory puts the club on a bit of a win streak, as they’ve now one three consecutive games ahead of Wednesday’s match. They’ll look to extend that streak to four and gain sole possession of first place with a victory over the Impact.
Get your tickets now for Wednesday’s match at Red Bulls Ticket Central, or by calling 877.RB.SOCCER.