Friday, April 22, 2011

United 0 Red Bulls 4: Emphatic!

Get Microsoft SilverlightJuan Agudelo's stunning second-half goal was the cherry on top of the delicious sundae that was the Red Bulls resounding 4-0 victory over hated rivals DC united last night in the nation's capital. It's a goal that will be talked about for a long time, and could very well be in the running for MLS Goal of the Year honors when all is said and done. Of course there's always a chance that a Sounders player scores a goal off his rear end and their fans stuff the ballot box, but what are you gonna do?

Agudelo's strike is yet another tantalizing taste of what the Red Bulls' striker is capable of. He has ball skills, strength and an eye for the goal that few young American players can match. A few more displays like this and Euro teams will come knocking, if they haven't already.  The goal was also reminiscent of a signature strike from Henry's days at Arsenal, so you have to wonder if TH14 has been teaching Agudelo a thing or two on the training ground. Of course, it's one thing to be taught something and another to execute.

Even before Agudelo took the pitch, however, the Red Bulls had buried United, thanks to a pair of first half goals from the suddenly revitalized Henry and a wonderful effort from Joel Lindpere after a long solo run and cutback. The Red Bulls ceded a bit more possession to DC than they had in recent matches, but could afford to play a bit more conservatively as they protected their lead, even if Bouna Condoul was called on to make a few excellent saves late on.

As Hans Backe admitted in his post-game comments, the final scoreline was perhaps a bit more lopsided than the run of play warranted, and United did have a few moments when they might have found a breakthrough. But the Red Bulls held firm and had plenty of opportunities themselves, including an Agudelo header that flashed just past Bill Hamid's post. A special mention must go to Jan Gunnar Solli, who was everywhere for RBNY and finished the night with three assists. Teemu Tainio had another outstanding night at the heart of the Red Bulls midfield.

Having now outscored opponents 7-0 in their last two games, RBNY is firing on all cylinders. If Henry can stay healthy and they can continue to get production from Rodgers, Agudelo and Lindpere, this team has the potential to go on a monster run. For now, we have to be content with two consecutive victories against DC United, our most lopsided victory ever at RFK and top spot in the Eastern Conference (though Philly has a game in hand). One regular season game doesn't make up for all of the humiliating losses that this organization has suffered at the hands of DC over the years, but it's something at least.  Credit to all the great traveling fans who made the trip for this one. The rest of us had to sit at home and grit our teeth through John Harkes' color commentary.

The Red Bulls are now idle over Easter weekend, but will face Sporting KC at the Cathedral of Football a week from Saturday. For now, let's take a few days to savor this one like a holiday feast, shall we?
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