New York Red Bulls vs. Sporting Kansas City: 5 Things We Learned
The New York Red Bulls came from behind to win 2-1 at home against Sporting Kansas City in the Eastern Conference knockout round on Thursday night.
Dom Dwyer scored the opening goal before Bradley Wright-Phillips completed a brace to clinch the victory for the Red Bulls. New York will face first-seed D.C. United in the conference semifinals.
Here are five things we learned from Thursday's match at Red Bull Arena.
Tim Cahill Didn't Impact a Match Once Again
Tim Cahill was invisible in the match, despite his impressive performance against Sporting on Sunday in the regular-season finale.
Cahill missed a sitter early in the game, which should have been buried from that distance. It was the Australian's only shot of the night in an otherwise uninspiring display.
The 34-year-old was operating behind Wright-Phillips, which is exactly where he played on Sunday. However, for some reason, Cahill hasn't been able to settle into Mike Petke's system this year.
Thierry Henry Was Solid Despite a Costly Mistake
Henry assisted Wright-Phillips' first goal, and he was exceptional in other areas. His intelligence on the ball allowed him to peel away from defenders, make runs and pick out his teammates with some slick passing.
The 37-year-old attempted 75 passes on Thursday, per WhoScored.com. Only Dax McCarty (84) had more on the night. Even in the latter stages of his career, Henry continues to play an instrumental role for his club.
Sporting KC's Plan Worked...Sort of
It was clear that Sporting KC's tactic was to sit deep, counter quickly and get the ball up to Dwyer. That's how his goal was created.
The match on Sunday was a sloppy one for SKC, although the absence of Benny Feilhaber was huge. The pass to set up Dwyer showed off Feilhaber's incredible vision and awareness.
However, New York quickly closed down Dwyer so that he couldn't get any real space. McCarty and Jamison Olave were exposed on the goal, but adjusted afterwards and didn't look back.
Width Made the Difference
The play on the flanks ended up deciding the end result of the game. Ambroise Oyongo's cross to Wright-Phillips led to the winning goal, but New York was trying to attack the Sporting full-backs all night.
The Red Bulls were a little static to begin the match, but once Roy Miller and Lloyd Sam got involved, New York's attack began to click. Henry began to influence the game, and Wright-Phillips got scoring chances as a result.
Width has been Kansas City's weakness for the past few months. Once again, it came back to haunt them.
Both Sides Were Wasteful
New York severely out-shot Kansas City 13-3, per MLSSoccer.com. However, both teams failed to seize their opportunities.
Cahill, Henry and Wright-Phillips all missed tap-ins that should have been buried. Even Dwyer couldn't pounce on a chance during the game. However, some credit should go to the defense and goalkeepers, who managed to stop a few shots from point-blank range.
New York failed in this department more than Sporting due to the amount of shots the hosts accumulated. It could have just been a bad day at the office, but it's something Petke should look at heading into the D.C. match.