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Red Bulls Weekly Update: May 16

NEW YORK TRAVELS TO HOUSTON SATURDAY FOR DYNAMO CLASH: Despite falling in their last match 3-2 to Chivas USA, the Red Bulls remain in first place in the Eastern Conference and take to the road this weekend when they battle the third place Houston Dynamo at Robertson Stadium on Saturday night (8:30 PM ET; TV: MSG; Radio: WQBU 92.7 FM).

The Red Bulls can hold on to their Eastern Conference lead with a victory, while the Dynamo can potentially take first place with a win of their own as they sit just two points behind New York. New York is on 15 points with a record of 4-2-3, while Houston enters the game unbeaten in their last six matches. Dominic Kinnear’s side holds a 3-3-4 record and 13 points, gaining a point in their most recent match, a scoreless draw with Real Salt Lake last weekend. Houston’s Brad Davis, a former New York draft choice who played 24 games with the club in 2002, currently leads MLS in assists this season with six. Forward Will Bruin is the team’s leading scorer with four goals.

Earlier this season, the Red Bulls and Dynamo played to a 1-1 draw at Red Bull Arena on April 2. The match marked Dwayne De Rosario’s New York debut, and the former Dynamo midfielder entered in style against the club he helped win two MLS Cup Championships, as he assisted on the game’s first goal, a 47th minute tally by Dane Richards. Houston’s equalizer came just three minutes later through Cam Weaver.

All-time, the Red Bulls own a 3-2-6 record in 11 regular season clashes against the Texas side. New York’s last trip to Robertson Stadium on July 31, 2010 marked the league debut of Thierry Henry, and the Frenchman capped his first MLS game with a two-assist effort in a 2-2 draw with the Dynamo. In the 11 game history between the clubs, neither team has ever defeated the other on the road, while both teams have scored 12 goals in the matchup.

RED BULLS-DYNAMO CONNECTIONS: Red Bulls midfielder Dwayne De Rosario was a member of the Houston Dynamo from 2006-2008, and helped the Dynamo franchise to two MLS Cup Championships, back-to-back in 2006 and 2007. In the 2007 final, De Rosario was named the MLS Cup Most Valuable Player for the second time in his career. 

Dynamo defender Hunter Freeman was a member of the Red Bulls during the 2007-08 seasons. He appeared in 30 games, starting 25, and registered one goal and two assists. Houston midfielder Brad Davis was drafted by New York with the third overall selection of the 2002 MLS SuperDraft out of Saint Louis University. Davis appeared in 24 games with New York in the 2002 season, notching four goals and three assists. New York traded Davis after the 2002 season to the Dallas Burn for a first round pick in the 2003 MLS SuperDraft.

LAST WEEK: Red Bulls 2, Chivas USA 3 at Red Bull Arena on Sunday, May 15.

THIS WEEK: Red Bulls at Houston Dynamo at Robertson Stadium on Saturday, May 21 at 8:30 PM ET (TV: MSG; Radio: WQBU 92.7 FM)

NEXT WEEK: Red Bulls vs. Colorado Rapids at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday, May 25 at 8:00 PM ET (TV: MSG; Radio: WADO 1280 AM).

Red Bulls at Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Empire Field on Saturday, May 28 at 7:00 PM ET (TV: MSG; Radio: WADO 1280 AM).

RED BULLS COME BACK TWICE BUT SUCCUMB TO CHIVAS USA, 3-2: A hat trick from Justin Braun paced Chivas USA to a 3-2 victory over the Red Bulls on Sunday night at Red Bull Arena. Thierry Henry and Dwayne De Rosario scored for New York, which fell to 4-2-3, 15 points on the season, but maintained its one-point lead over the Philadelphia Union for first place in the Eastern Conference.

In a back and forth first frame, the visitors took the lead just six minutes in on Braun’s first goal of the 2011 season. On a counterattack, Chivas midfielder Nick LaBrocca sped through the Red Bulls midfield and played a ball out to Braun on the left side. Braun took the ball towards the center of the pitch, cut the ball back at the corner of the penalty area, and curled a right-footed shot to the far corner past an outstretched Bouna Coundoul.

New York evened the match on Henry’s 21st minute goal, which came off an assist from Rafa Marquez. From just beyond the midfield stripe, the Mexican defender looped a long ball behind the Chivas defense that Henry controlled at the top of the box. Henry fired a shot across his body and inside the left post for his team-leading fifth goal of the season.

Chivas retook the lead just nine minutes later, and again it was Braun who provided the strike. The visitors earned a free kick inside the New York half, which Heath Pearce took, swinging the ball to the goal line just outside the six yard area. Ante Jazic redirected the ball towards the middle, where Braun was able to guide it through the legs of Coundoul and into the net.

New York’s search for another equalizer didn’t take long. In the 34th minute, Luke Rodgers looked to have an open chance at goal as he was destined to latch onto the end of a Henry feed. Before he could get to the loose ball, Rodgers was taken down by Pearce, and referee Alex Prus pointed to the penalty spot. On his 33rd birthday, De Rosario stepped up and smashed the penalty into the top left corner for his first goal in a Red Bulls uniform.

Braun completed his hat trick in the 56th minute to give Chivas a 3-2 lead. On a free kick, Simon Elliott found Alejandro Moreno, who headed the ball on goal. Coundoul was able to push the ball off the post, but the ball deflected across the goal line and in front of an empty net. Braun was all alone, and easily tapped the ball in.

RED BULLS FALL TO MONTREAL IMPACT, 1-0, IN FRIENDLY: Despite generating scoring chances throughout the 90 minutes, the New York Red Bulls fell to the Montreal Impact, 1-0, at Saputo Stadium in front of 12,568 spectators in a friendly between the sides. Montreal, currently playing in the North American Soccer League, is Major League Soccer’s next expansion team that will join the league in 2012.

Red Bulls midfielder Dwayne De Rosario nearly gave the visitors the lead in the 25th minute if it weren’t for the woodwork. Forward Juan Agudelo was stripped of the ball in the Impact box and the Canadian De Rosario got to it first, poking it past goalkeeper Evan Bush and off the right upright. Ten minutes later, forward Thierry Henry flicked in a Rafa Marquez delivery, but the Frenchman was ruled offside by the linesman.

After staying relatively quiet in the attacking third for most of the first half, Montreal earned the only goal of the game in the 37th minute. Defender Philippe Billy had space by the right sideline and swung in a cross to current Montreal and former Toronto FC forward Ali Gerba, who rose above his defender and nodded it into the back of the net.

Both teams made a combined 13 changes at halftime as the Red Bulls searched for an equalizer. New York midfielder John Rooney tried his luck from outside of the penalty box and just missed the top right corner of the net in the 53rd minute. Twelve minutes later, Agudelo bodied off an Impact defender in midfield, raced towards goal and fired a blast that was parried away by a fully extended Bush. With the Red Bulls pressing, Reda Agourram almost doubled Montreal’s lead with four minutes to play, forcing Greg Sutton to block his attempt.

HENRY STRIKES, THIRD IN MLS IN GOALS: Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry continued his scoring ways in the club’s 3-2 loss to Chivas USA. The Frenchman temporarily evened the score at 1-1 in the 21st minute with his team-leading fifth goal of the season. New York defender Rafa Marquez assisted on the goal, his first helper of 2011. Henry’s five goals puts him tied for third in MLS in goals this season.

Player (Team), Goals

1. Landon Donovan (LA), 7
2. Charlie Davies (DC), 6
T-3. Thierry Henry (NY), 5
T-3. Chris Wondolowski (SJ), 5
T-4. 6 players tied, 4

DE RO CONVERTS PENALTY FOR FIRST NY GOAL: Red Bulls midfielder Dwayne De Rosario scored his first goal in a New York kit in Sunday’s 3-2 loss to Chivas USA. After Luke Rodgers was taken down in the penalty area, De Rosario stepped up to the spot and converted the penalty into the top left corner, tying the game at two-apiece. The goal came on De Rosario’s 33rd birthday. The Red Bulls acquired the four-time MLS Cup Champion in a trade on April 1 with Toronto FC, in exchange for Tony Tchani, Danleigh Borman, and the Red Bulls’ first round 2012 MLS SuperDraft pick.

HENRY WINS GOAL OF THE WEEK, REAM SAVE OF THE WEEK: The Red Bulls’ 1-1 draw with the Los Angeles Galaxy on May 7 saw two Red Bulls’ win league-wide individual awards for their efforts. Henry’s fourth minute goal was voted as the AT&T Goal of the Week, while Tim Ream became the first non-goalkeeper to win the MLS Save of the Week award this season. Ream earned the award by racing back to keep Landon Donovan’s would-be tiebreaking goal with a sliding clearance just as the ball was approaching the goal line.

RED BULLS, NYPD HEAD TO COLOMBIA FOR “FOOTBALL FOR CHILDREN – BREAKING BORDERS”: The Red Bulls and New York Police Department Soccer Team’s annual “Football For Children – Breaking Borders” program is set to travel to the Colombian cities of Medellin and Manizales between May 16 and 24.

With the support of the Consulate of Colombia in New York City, the National Police of Colombia, the United States’ Embassy in Bogotá and the Centro Colombo Americano, the program will run six soccer clinics in both cities, and will distribute donations of clothing and sports equipment to underprivileged children. Included in the donations are soccer balls, shirts, and soccer shorts and shoes.

“We are in the fifth year of our program and we are very surprised how it continues to grow,” Red Bulls Senior Director of Hispanic Communications Ernesto Motta said. “We are proud that Lieutenant Robert Mejia and the NYPD Soccer team continue to be a part of this important project. I want to thank the various organizations and entities that make possible the transport and mobilization of our group in Colombia.”

The National Police of Colombia will provide land and air transportation of members of the program between Medellin and Manizales. Colonel Jorge Gomez of the National Police was instrumental in planning the event, as were the efforts of Centro Colombo Americano. Avianca, which has assisted the group with transportation without any charge since 2009, is again also donating to the cause.

"We are very pleased to continue supporting the work of Red Bulls and the NYPD Soccer Team,” said Director of Avianca Bogotá Jamie Londono. “Being part of this work, and having children receive these gifts gives me great pride, and we are happy to do it.”

Four clinics will be held in Medellin while two will be held in Manizales, the birthplace of Red Bulls striker Juan Agudelo, where the program also visited in 2009. The four clinics in Medellin will be held on four separate fields, all of which are located in areas that have been subject to violence and poverty in the past.

"I am very pleased that this important group is traveling to my hometown of Manizales and putting on these clinics,” Agudelo said.  “I think it’s wonderful that we’re able to offer something to the children who don’t have these resources. I hope to be, for them, a good example so they can see that through sports they can find a different path in their lives.”

NEW YORK’S GOT WINGS UPDATE: The New York Red Bulls announced the winning Queens Borough soccer club on May 9 for the team’s New York’s Got Wings program. Auburndale Soccer Club received the most votes by the public and will receive new sports apparel and equipment in a partnership with adidas and Kwik Goal. They will also receive a soccer clinic by the New York Red Bulls elite level of coaches.

"The Auburndale Soccer Club is really very appreciative that our club was able to take part in, and win, this competition. Our kids worked so hard to win this,” said Arthur Ruppert, Auburndale’s Soccer Club Board of Directors. “They are all so ecstatic and thankful, and they can’t wait for their clinic with the Red Bulls' coaches!”

In an effort to revitalize local soccer programs, the New York Red Bulls will be providing needed equipment and elite-level coaching throughout the upcoming season. The team is aiming to reach New York’s soccer-playing fanbase, from those participating in city-run summer camps, to younger athletes training in soccer clubs in the five boroughs.

The soccer club voting for each borough will take place over a seven game block. Brooklyn voting has begun and will go until June 11, Staten Island (6/19 – 7/16), Bronx (7/20 – 9/10) and Manhattan (9/17 – 10/20).

In addition to working with existing soccer clubs, every goal scored by the New York Red Bulls during the 2011 MLS regular season, Red Bull will make donations to the New York City Parks & Recreation Department’s summer camp programs. For each goal, $1,000 in equipment and clinics will be donated to the cause. The team hopes exposing kids to the fundamentals of soccer will help them embrace the sport, thus leading them to a healthier lifestyle. With the 2011 season not even a quarter of the way through, the team has scored a total of 13 goals thus far.