Originally written on Total MLS  |  Last updated 11/19/14

It was the third game in seven days for the Red Bulls and while most played major minutes in both of the sweltering matches leading up to the Philly game, one man was rested: Kenny Cooper. Though Cooper did play the final few minutes of the match against the Fire midweek, it was his first real break from play since not starting against FC Dallas all the way back during MLS First Kick. Cooper had been playing the lone striker role or was partnered up with a midfielder while Thierry Henry was out injured. The Red Bulls started Henry’s injury with a five game win streak and Cooper was scoring but his last goal came in a 1-1 draw against Chivas USA all the way back on May 23rd. Henry returned to the lineup this past week and the Red Bulls added another French striker, Sebastien Le Toux.

The Red Bulls stared last week facing a trio of home games, all in the afternoon, ahead of tough opponents in the scorching heat. New York would tie Seattle 2-2 and beat the Chicago Fire on the back of a beautiful Thierry Henry goal, busting the Frenchmen’s own slump. The Philadelphia Union were always going to be a tricky opponent for the Red Bulls. New York was definitely going to be featuring some tired legs in their lineup and without the reinforcements of Rafa Marquez, Jan Gunnar Solli, and Heath Pearce; New York was facing a true test of their fitness. Hans Backe lined up his team the same way he did against the Sounders, with Le Toux playing out wide right, while Henry and Cooper played up top. Backe had a tough choice to make as he say midfielder turned right back Brandon Barklage go down injured and subbed on Jonathan Borrajo. The Union surprisingly lined up with no Freddy Adu, who in the teams first meeting, had tore through New York’s midfield until he was sent off.

The first half started out with a bit of back and forth, with both teams having sloppy midfield play by way of intercepted passes and mental mistakes. Both Zac MacMath and Bill Gaudette made key stops in the first to keep the teams level at 0. However, the Red Bulls would strike first late in the half, as Joel Linpere would feed a racing Connor Lade down the left flank. Lade sent in a cross that Kenny Cooper was able to get on and head past a diving MacMath. It was Cooper’s 12th goal of the season, second best in all of MLS behind San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski’s 17. Not long into the second half, it was almost déjà vu for the Red Bulls as Henry and Lade would team up for the second goal. Henry sent a sprinting Lade in but Lade played the ball back to Henry who seemed to just tap the ball to Cooper’s head. There was some controversy as it looked as if Cooper was initially offside, however replays ultimately showed Cooper did well to stay onside and put the home team up, 2-0. The Union would be on the end of two missed calls however, once as Jack McInerny was brought down by a shirt pull, courtesy of Borrajo, who was on a breakaway on goal. The Union looked to have a goal late courtesy of an Antoine Hoppenot put away but had it called back due to an offside call. The replays would show otherwise, however, perhaps these two missed calls in the favor of the Red Bulls evens out the two missed penalty calls New York was not given in their previous two games.

New York ended their three game home stand on a 2-0-1 record on the heel of two straight shutouts. All three of their strikers found the back of the net, two of them busting serious slumps. The Red Bulls also gained ground on those ahead of them in the Supporter’s Shield race and took sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference. New York improved to 11-5-5 on the year with a 7-0-3 record at home. Only the Houston Dynamo is also undefeated at home, with the same record. New York’s next match is Saturday July 28th at Stade Saputo against the Montreal Impact.

(image courtesy of newyorkredbulls.com)

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