KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Early on, it looked as though Thierry Henry's 100th start for the New York Red Bulls would be the beginning of a forgettable – even regrettable – night for his club.
But after withstanding an early offensive flurry from Sporting Kansas City and falling behind even before the 10-minute mark, both Henry and the Red Bulls made something decent of Tuesday night's match. Henry assisted on Bradley Wright-Phillips' league-leading 11th goal early in the second half, and the Red Bulls left Sporting Park with a 1-1 draw.
It broke a three-match losing streak for New York (3-5-6), while Sporting – who led after nine minutes on Toni Dovale's first MLS goal – are 5-4-4 and on a four-match winless streak after their second straight draw.
They did get Aurelien Collin back from a two-match absence due to a hamstring strain, though, and the big central defender's aerial presence and open-field tackling ability likely helped Sporting take the point.
Sporting attacked out of the gate and could have been up 3-0 after five minutes but for two big defensive plays and a blast that just missed by inches.
Igor Juliao made a long run into the box and chipped goalkeeper Luis Robles in the second minute, only to see Chris Duvall clear the ball off the line. Ibrahim Sekagya made another goalmouth clearance of Sal Zizzo's header in the fifth minute, and Benny Feilhaber drove a close-range free kick off the underside of the crossbar later in the fifth.
Dovale wouldn't be denied on Sporting's next big chance, though. He took Feilhaber's through ball in traffic, worked his way to a spot just outside the top of the penalty arc and unleashed a left-footed shot that curled into the lower left corner of Luis Robles' goal.
After that, though, Sporting wouldn't get off another shot on goal until Robles saved Dovale's blast toward the upper right corner in the 79th. That was also the last save Robles had to make, as Kansas City didn't put another attempt on frame.
The confetti cannons did go off in the 25th minute, but prematurely; Kevin Ellis put the ball in the net from close range but was whistled for a foul on Robles that created the opportunity.
Five minutes after the break, it was even. Wright-Phillips made a run to take Henry's through ball, drove on goal and put his shot just under 'keeper Eric Kronberg.
Kronberg came up big on a pair of challenging shots not long after the hour mark to keep things even, though. He dived to his right to parry Peguy Luyindula's low drive out for a corner in the 66th minute, then controlled Henry's dipping try from outside the area after the restart.
Sporting continue their tightly packed May schedule on Saturday at D.C. United, while the Red Bulls are off until they visit New England on June 8.
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.