Coming off a season where they finished last in the league, scored the fewest and conceded the most goals in MLS, the Red Bulls’ two wins to start the season signaled a potential turnaround for a franchise that never truly has lived up to its flagship billing in MLS.
With the fast start, expectations were raised and remained high, despite last weekend’s 2-0 loss on the road to Chivas USA. The question around New York all week was whether a franchise so inept and so snake-bitten last season could bounce back.
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New York responded on Saturday night with an ambiguous 2-1 win over FC Dallas. It was certainly a win for a team that needed the result, but it wasn’t an inspiring performance.
Things did not start well for New York, as a Dax McCarthy goal in the ninth minute off a cross from Heath Pearce gave the visitors an early lead. It wasn’t until well into the second half that the Red Bulls equalized as Juan Pablo Ángel one-timed his first goal of the season past FC Dallas’ goalkeeper Darío Sala.
It was almost stoppage time when New York finally took the lead. Ángel, who missed a penalty kick earlier in the half, fired home from the spot in the 89th minute to give New York its third win of the season.
Early in the week, New York head coach Hans Backe said he was looking to see how his team responded from last week’s setback. The first-year coach told MLSsoccer.com he wasn’t sure how his team would bounce back from the Chivas USA game, and that he thought his team should have gotten a result.
“We didn’t really respond well,” Backe said of the team’s performance on Saturday night against FC Dallas.
Backe said that his team was under siege by FC Dallas as the game opened, saying, “The first 10 or 15 minutes, we looked totally paralyzed. It was just a matter of time till they scored.”
All told, FC Dallas had more than double the numbers of shots and shots on goals than the home side, forcing goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul to play above himself for long stretches of the second half.
“Bouna [Coundoul] kept us in the game, five or six key saves,” Backe said.
A result is a result for a team that didn’t win its third game until Aug. 23 last season. Despite the fact that New York churned and gutted out three points in a game in which it probably shouldn’t have earned even one, the Red Bulls players still aren’t pleased with the way they got the win.
“For whatever reason, we came out flat the first 10 minutes,” defender Tim Ream told MLSsoccer.com. “We just didn’t respond well.”