The New York Red Bulls offense needed a lift, and Luke Rodgers was the man to provide it.
Starting in place of Juan Agudelo, Rodgers scored twice on Saturday night as the Red Bulls trounced the San Jose Earthquakes, 3-0, at Red Bull Arena. Thierry Henry, who played perhaps his best game since joining New York, capped off the win with his first goal of the season in the 87th minute.
The Earthquakes were thoroughly outplayed, as the Red Bulls outshot the visitors 16-7, including a 9-3 advantage in shots on goal.
New York’s domination started in the second minute when Rafa Márquez swung a corner kick from the left side to the far post, where Dane Richards was able to redirect it back into the center. Rodgers, generously listed at 5’7”, outjumped his marker to nod home his first MLS goal.
The Earthquakes struggled to gain any rhythm and did not register their first chance on goal until the 48th minute. Chris Wondolowski capitalized on a Márquez miscue in the box to fire a shot that looked headed into the net. But goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul dove to push it aside for a corner kick.Thirteen minutes later, Rodger’s doubled New York’s lead, thanks to some hounding defense from Henry. San Jose’s Ramiro Corrales dilly-dallied on the ball, and Henry pressured and stripped the Earthquakes captain on the right flank. Racing in alone, Henry then slotted a teasing ball across the face of the goal and just out of reach of goalkeeperJon Busch. Rodgers timed his run perfectly to hammer home his second goal of the night.
Aside from that, though, New York continued to control the run of play. In the second half, Henry had several chances to score. First, he took a breakaway around Busch but fired his shot wide of the open goal. Then, in the 77th minute, after separating from his man, he hit a long-range drive that forced a good save from Busch.
Finally, with three minutes to play, he struck a beautiful goal—his first in league play since September 11, 2010. Rodgers returned Henry’s earlier favor, chipping in a cross to the far post. Henry snuck behind San Jose defender Jason Hernandez and headed the ball past Busch into the far side netting.
San Jose’s best chance of the match came just second after the restart. After controlling the ball eight yards out from goal, Wondolowski right-footed a shot that forced Coundoul into one of his two saves on the night.
The victory was revenge for New York against the side that knocked the Red Bulls out of the MLS Cup playoffs last year.
The win puts New York up to second place in the Eastern Conference, two points behind leaders Philadelphia. Meanwhile, with Seattle winning and Vancouver drawing on the evening, the Earthquakes fall into 6th place.
NY -- Luke Rodgers 1 (Dane Richards 1) 2
NY -- Luke Rodgers 2 (Thierry Henry 1) 15
NY -- Thierry Henry 1 (Luke Rodgers 1) 87
San Jose Earthquakes -- Jon Busch, Jason Hernandez, Ike Opara, Brandon McDonald, Ramiro Corrales (Matt Luzunaris 77), Bobby Convey, Khari Stephenson (Chris Leitch 62), Sam Cronin, Chris Wondolowski, Simon Dawkins (Scott Sealy 64), Ryan Johnson.
New York Red Bulls -- Bouna Coundoul, Jan Gunnar Solli, Tim Ream, Rafael Marquez, Roy Miller, Dane Richards (John Rooney 89), Dwayne De Rosario, Teemu Tainio, Joel Lindpere (Mehdi Ballouchy 85), Luke Rodgers (Juan Agudelo 89), Thierry Henry.
NY -- Dwayne De Rosario (caution; Reckless Tackle) 32
SJ -- Brandon McDonald (caution; Reckless Tackle) 55
NY -- Luke Rodgers (caution; Reckless Foul) 55
Referee: Chris Penso
Referee's Assistants: Darren Clark; Bill Dittmar
4th Official: Jose Carlos Rivero
Time of Game: 1:50