For the second consecutive series, the New England Revolution have come up with a massive away win in the first leg and will head home as huge favorites. They were under pressure for most of the match against the New York Red Bulls, but started and finished strong in their 2-1 victory.
The tempo of this game was high from the outset, with big early chances for both sides. Jermaine Jones nearly scored on a header in the 4th minute, but Luis Robles came up with an excellent save. Three minutes later, Lloyd Sam forced Bobby Shuttleworth to push his shot aside after a great flick-on from Bradley Wright-Phillips.
It was New England who got on the board first, and through a spectacular shot by Teal Bunbury. He executed a perfect stepover move to get a yard of separation from his defender, then curled a perfect effort with his weaker left foot around Robles and into the back of the net from 20 yards.
New York's equalizer came in the 28th minute, and it was a controversial one. Henry dummied a through ball by Ambroise Oyongo, letting it run through to Peguy Luyindula, whose first shot was saved. He hit a second effort while sitting down that hit the crossbar, and Wright-Phillips was there to nod in the rebound. Wright-Phillips was probably a half-step offside on the play due to Shuttleworth being off his line, but the assistant referee didn't spot it.
On multiple occasions after that, the Red Bulls should have taken the lead, but failed to do so. Their best chance came in first half stoppage time, when Wright-Phillips headed over the bar while completely unmarked off a brilliant cross by Henry, who had a great shot of his own just after the break. He forced Shuttleworth into a difficult save on a 20-yard curler in the 52nd minute, and Sam failed to put his effort off the rebound on target.
Both teams had chances to win the match early in the second half, but struggled convert them. Wright-Phillips forced yet another save in the 59th minute, and was shown a yellow card for obstructing Shuttleworth out of frustration shortly afterwards. In the 72nd minute, Davies touched a Lee Nguyen pass on target off a short corner routine, but was denied by Robles, and Jones headed a second effort over.
But Jones eventually came up huge for the Revs, scoring the winning goal in the 85th minute. Nguyen was the architect of a spectacular counter, finished off by a Bunbury square ball to Jones, who was able to finish into an empty net. There was a hint of offside, but he stayed level with the ball on the move and the goal stood.
New York Red Bulls: Robles, Oyongo, Sekagaya, Olave, Eckersley, McCarty, Alexander (Cahill 76'), Sam, Luyindula, Henry, Wright-Phillips
Goals: Wright-Phillips (28')
New England Revolution: Shuttleworth, Tierney, Soares, Goncalves, Farrell, Caldwell, Jones, Rowe (Alston 62'), Nguyen (Dorman 90'), Bunbury, Davies (Mullins 85')
Goals: Bunbury (17'), Jones (85')
1. Thierry Henry still makes everything happen for Red Bulls - There wasn't a whole lot that went right for New York that didn't involve Thierry Henry. His dummy on the goal was amazing, he had the best shot that didn't go in and he set up a couple of chances that should have been finished. Hopefully he's just retiring because he's sick of playing soccer, not because the Red Bulls don't want to pay him. He's still their best player.
2. Revs now massive favorites - Even if the Red Bulls had converted one of those numerous chances and won this match, the Revolution would have headed home as favorites to take the series. After a home loss, the Red Bulls are going to have a tough time getting through, especially given...
3. BWP's yellow was incredibly dumb - Yep, Major League Soccer's leading scorer and the man who scored New York's goal on Sunday will be suspended for the second leg. He picked up a ridiculous yellow card for obstructing New England keeper Bobby Shuttleworth, and he'll be out due to yellow card accumulation. Tim Cahill, come on down!