Sunday, April 3, 2011

De Rosario Shines, But Red Bulls Drop Two Points

All the build up to the New York Red Bulls' home match against the Houston Dynamo was centered around the potential debut of midfielder Dwayne De Rosario. De Rosario had arrived on Friday as part of a trade which saw defender Danleigh Borman and midfielder Tony Tchani go to Toronto, and many a watcher on predicted that the Canadian would have a big impact in New York.

However, come kick off time, De Rosario was not to be found in the starting line-up, with Hans Baake electing to use De-Ro in a substitutes roll.

The match started with the Red Bulls maintaining possession well, knocking the ball around throughout midfield, but the high pressure game being played by Houston stopped the Red Bulls from making many useful forays into Dynamo territory.

On the other hand, Dominic Kinnear's Dynamo team were efficient with their use of the ball, and seemed to be creating openings every time they got themselves into Red Bulls territory. In the twenty-third minute, a Jeff Cameron flick on was latched on to by captain Brian Ching, but the American could only fire the ball against the crossbar. The Red Bulls knew they had survived a scare, but still failed to create any chances of real note in the latter stages of the first period.

With the Red Bulls devoid of any inspiration, Hans Baake made the decision to put on new signing Dwayne De Rosario in place of the ineffective Ballouchy, at the start of the second half. Immediately the Canadian international and four time MLS Cup champion had an impact as his first touch, a fabulous ball through to Dane Richards, set the speedy winger through on goal. However, when Dane Richards cut the ball back it looked as though the chance was gone, but Jamaican international Richards still managed to fire the ball into the bottom corner. The Red Bulls had the lead and at the heart of it, who else but Dwayne De Rosario.

With De Rosario dominating play in the middle of the park it seemed only a matter of time before New York doubled, even tripled their lead, but Houston had other ideas.

A moment of confusion at the back allowed substitute Cam Weaver to get through on goal, and the man who had replaced the injured Brian Ching earlier in the match made no mistake, as he clipped the ball past Bouna Condoul with a deft piece of finishing.

Pegged back, but still on top, the Red Bulls continued to press for a winner and on fifty-three minutes they should have got one. Juan Agudelo showed terrific skill on the side of the penalty area, nut megging his marker before cutting the ball back to Dane Richards, who dallied, and eventually had his shot blocked.

For Houston fans, the game was beginning to become reminiscent of the Texans' recent 1-1 draw in Seattle, a result they scarcely deserved, and only gained through dogged defending and several huge slices of good luck.

The Red Bulls were clearly not satisfied with just a point and continued to press high up the field, battering the Houston back line. With twenty minutes to go, Dane Richards' clever chip released De Rosario in the box, and the former Houston man lifted the ball to the back post, where Thierry Henry's shot from point blank range was some how saved by the excellent Tally Hall.

That was to prove the Red Bulls' best chance of the closing stages, and though Juan Agudelo, Luke Rodgers, Joel Lindpere and Dwayne De Rosario came close late on, it was Henry's miss that will be remembered as the moment that might have been.

1-1 was the final result, something that will no doubt frustrate the spectators at Red Bull Arena, after they watched their side enjoy such dominance for large periods of the second half. In the end though, the Red Bulls were punished for defensive naivety, letting down their guard at the back, probably still reveling in Dane Richard's opener. On a positive note though, De Rosario was superb in midfield and with him Richards, Henry and Agudelo on the pitch, the Red Bulls look hugely dangerous in attack. Unfortunately for Baake, that attacking quartet is likely to be broken up by this summer's Gold Cup, but in the second, and most important, half of the season, Red Bulls fans can expect to see a lot of goals out of their front men.

On paper, a 1-1 draw away in New York looks a good result, but the game leaves the Dynamo still without a win in their first three matches of the season, a fact that will frustrate manager Dominic Kinnear to no end. Once again though, in the face of adversity, Houston showed brilliant grit and determination to grind out a result that was looking increasingly unlikely.

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