The New York Red Bulls beat DC United in a playoff game for the first time ever, as they put in a fine attacking display at Red Bull Arena to win the first-leg of the Eastern Conference semi-final 2-0.
Thierry Henry grabbed two assists as he setup Bradley Wright-Phillips and Peguy Luyindula, and the Red Bulls will take a decent lead into the second-leg in DC next Saturday.
Here are five takeaways from the game:
1. DC torn apart in midfield
The top-seeded side in the Eastern Conference struggled to get into the game despite showing signs early on and were lucky to leave with only a two goal deficit to overturn next week. Perry Kitchen and Davy Arnaud failed to control anything in midfield and were dominated by the Red Bulls in the middle of the park. Peguy Luyindula had all sorts of time to create chances, and DC must ensure that they don’t make the same mistake twice in the second-leg.
2. Thierry the master once more
Thierry Henry put in another exceptional performance and his form in the playoffs could see New York go all the way. The 37-year-old was as influential as ever as he bagged two assists, the first of which was a delightful backheel in the box to Bradley Wright-Phillips, and the Englishman netted for the 30th time in total this year. Speculation about Henry’s future continues to rumble on but he is showing no signs of slowing down as he put in another remarkable display for the Red Bull fans.
Henry’s great backheel assist for Wright-Phillips’ goal: (Via MLS on YouTube)
3. Bill Hamid gives DC hope
Hamid proved yet again why he is a Goalkeeper of the Year contender as he made two huge saves to deny Lloyd Sam and Wright-Phillips in the second-half. Hamid ended the game with five saves and his performance has kept DC United in this tie. His double save at 1-0 ensure that DC have something to fight for next week, and they will need their goalkeeper to be at his best yet again if they are to remain in the playoffs.
4. Red Bull right-sided dominance leaves DC stranded
Englishmen Richard Eckersley and Lloyd Sam caused all kinds of problems for Chris Pontius and Taylor Kemp down the right-side for New York. Eckersley put in another excellent display, while Sam continued to create chances down the right. Kemp will not want to watch the game back, as he struggled to deal with the Englishman all game, and DC must improve on their left side if they are to avoid a repeat result.
5. New York may live to regret missed chances
New York may have got the result they wanted, and kept a clean-sheet too, but they will be disappointed that they couldn’t wrap the tie up in the first-leg. They had countless chances to put the game out of DC’s reach, but couldn’t capitalise – a common problem for the Red Bulls. They had 17 shots during the game and two goals is good but not enough to see them through, and they must make sure they don’t live to regret those misses.