HARRISON, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls avoided defeat to Chivas USA with a last-second goal from Péguy Luyindula on Sunday, but an overlooked facet of the game-tying play was goalkeeper Luis Robles setting a March Madness-like pick to free his teammate.
With his side trailing 1-0 in the dying moments of the match, Robles bombed forward on a corner kick to try and help the Red Bulls wreak some havoc in the penalty area. He executed his role perfectly, running straight to goal and imposing himself on Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.
Kennedy, who had been spectacular throughout, tried to free up the space in front of him by pushing Robles. That move, however, sucked Kennedy out of position ever so slightly and allowed for Luyindula to nod home Eric Alexander's dead-ball delivery.
Robles may not have gotten credited with the assist on the official box score, but he was instrumental in setting up that goal that salvaged a point for New York in the 1-1 draw at Red Bull Arena.
“I looked at it from my vantage point as a goalkeeper, 'What would be the most annoying thing that I could do?’ And that was literally just stand right in front of Dan,” said Robles. “He allowed me to kind of dictate his position because he not only came and shoved me, but I think he even followed me a little bit, so it kind of pulled him out of position.
“I guess you can definitely label it 'March Madness,' but all I know is that I’m 2-for-2 when I go up there.”
Robles, who helped the Red Bulls pull off a similar last-gasp goal vs. the New England Revolution in 2013, was visibly pleased after the match when talking about setting up Luyindula’s equalizer. But that was about the only moment of postgame levity from Robles, who admitted that New York have a lot to work on if they are to soon end their four-game winless start to the season.
“I was just as surprised as everyone in the stadium,” said Robles when asked about what he thought of New York’s flat first-half effort. “I think we were very timid and they were able to dictate play. They continued to try to expose one side and the bad thing about it was we allowed them, as a team, to continue to do it.”
Even with the much-improved closing 45 minutes that ended with Luyindula’s first MLS goal, head coach Mike Petke agreed with the sentiment from Robles that the Red Bulls need to improve quite a bit before going on their road trip to Montreal this weekend.
“Second half was a good response. I thought we saw some very good play, specifically certain players, and to get the goal in the end,” said Petke. “But let’s put things in perspective: We tied Chivas in the 92nd minute at home. A better Chivas team than last year, for sure, but we tied Chivas at home in the 90th minute so that’s not good enough.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com.