The New York Red Bulls got off to a rough start in their borderline must-win MLS matchup against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Tuesday night, but they were eventually able to bring out the quality in their side. Thanks to a victory over LA by a final score of 2-0, the Red Bulls now sit securely in a playoff spot in MLS and will be in control of their own destiny going forward.
Los Angeles thoroughly outplayed their hosts in the opening 30 minutes, but couldn't make the most of their opportunities. Juninho and Paolo Cardozo both had nice long distance shots saved by Frank Rost, while Chad Barrett missed multiple close-range opportunities. David Beckham was brilliant early on, playing a number of great long balls to his teammates, but his influence on the game lessened as time wore on.
The Red Bulls found their opener on a corner kick in the 33rd minute, and from that point on, it was an entirely different game. Joel Lindpere took the corner that led to the goal, hitting the head of Teemu Tainio. Donovan Ricketts made a good save on the header, but Luke Rodgers was waiting to pounce on the rebound and poked it into the top of the net for a goal. From that point forward, New York would be on the front foot.
New York's second goal came in the 59th minute, and that goal sealed the deal. It came on an incredible bit of quality from Rafael Marquez, who played a spectacular long ball to Thierry Henry, and a finish that was almost as good from the French international. The two Designated Players haven't done a whole lot of combining in their time in New York, but this rare occasion was a treat to watch.
In the end, the absence of LA's stars was obvious and crippling. Beckham and Juninho did enough to create decent chances that Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane probably would have finished, but Barrett and Cardozo didn't have the quality to do so. Still, there's nothing to take away from the Red Bulls, who were the better team for 55-60 minutes of the match and deserved the three points.
For more on the two teams, be sure to check out LA Galaxy blog LAG Confidential and Red Bulls blog Once A Metro. For live coverage of Red Bulls-Galaxy and the U.S. Open Cup final between Seattle Sounders and the Chicago Fire later tonight, keep it on our MLS Super Tuesday StoryStream.