Finally, the losing streak is over! After losing the last four games, Juan Pablo Angel's free-kick in the waning seconds of the second half lifted the New York Red Bulls to a 2-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo. With their sixth win of the season, they have surpassed last year's win total.
On a night when fans and reporters alike were ready to facebook, twitter, blog, recap Juan Pablo's missed opportunities and question his abilities, he reminded all why he's the captain of the Red Bulls. His blast stunned Houston's GK, Pat Onstad, and sent both the Empire Supporters Club and Red Bull fans into a state of frenzy.
All night long, the Empire Supporters Club led the fans in cheers and chants. Even in the two back-to-back home losses to the Seattle Sounders and the Columbus Crew, the ESC have done their part in keeping the rest of the home fans involved. Tonight, they took their enthusiasm into another level as they transformed Red Bull Arena into a playoff atmosphere environment.
Prior to tonight's hard-fought match with Houston, the Red Bulls had failed to capitalize on their opportunities for the past three games in which they were in position to win/tie each contest. As a result, their past three opponents cashed in on late goals, three Red Bulls shots on goals hitting the post, and two player ejections.
The Red Bulls struck first when Sinisa Ubiparipovic scored his first goal of the season in the 15th minute of the game. Throughout the first half, the Red Bulls dictated the tempo of the game but like the past three games, they weren't able to produce more goals. Nothing was more evident of this when team captain Juan Pablo Angel failed to capitalize on two separate occasions.
In the second half, the Red Bulls continued to play aggressively and put pressure on Houston's goalkeeper, Pat Onstad. Along with the team's cohesive ball movement, defenders Tim Ream, Mike Petke, and Chris Albright disrupted Houston's flow. Despite the trio's efforts, Houston eventually achieved a breakthrough in the 65th minute in the form of a Brian Ching equalizing goal.
To make matters difficult, the officials issued eight yellow cards and called a total of 25 fouls on both teams. Despite the officiating, both teams continued to play aggressively and challenge each other's goalkeepers.
Red Bulls GK Bouna Coundoul played exceptionally well as he made key saves in the second half and allowed one goal. His counterpart, Houston's GK Pat Onstad, played just as well, if not better. As the match was reaching it's conclusion, it appeared Onstad had Juan Pablo's number until the Red Bulls were awarded a free kick.
With the players in set formation, Juan Pablo delivered his strike and Onstad read the direction of the ball well. As Onstad heroically lunged to block Juan Pablo's strike, he made the mistake of mistiming the kick. As the ball sailed past him, all Onstad could do was watch in disbelief as Juan Pablo was mobbed by his teammates.
With tonight's win, the Red Bulls (6-5) are now in second place of the Eastern Conference and face struggling Chivas USA (3-7-1) on Saturday, June 5, 2010 at Red Bull Arena at 7:30pm, ET.
The Houston Dynamo (5-6-1) now fly out to California where they will face the undefeated Los Angeles Galaxy (9-0-2) on Saturday, June 5, 2010 at the Home Depot Center at 10pm, ET.
Cesar Diaz is the Soccer Editor for Latino Sports. Please send your questions and comments to Cesar at firstname.lastname@example.org