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Match Report: New York Red Bulls 4-1 Colorado Rapids

Tuesday 27th March 2012
90 minutes is all it takes for a perspective on a team to spin on its head. Prior to kick off on Sunday the Red Bulls were reeling following losses and lacklustre displays in their opening two games of the season in which they scored 1 and conceded 4 on the road to Dallas and Salt Lake.

By full time, fans, players and coaches of the team were buoyant following a comprehensive 4-1 defeat of Colorado in the team's home opener at Red Bull Arena. Three changes made to the line-up attributed to this reversal.

Vice-captain Rafa Marquez made his first start of the season after completing a suspension following his dismissal in the playoffs against LA last season, he came in for the injured Teemu Tainio. New signing Wilman Conde started at the heart of defense for Stephen Keel after recovering from an injury which ruled him out of the opening two games. Additionally, Kenny Cooper was finally given a start in league play after scoring a goal in his two substitute appearances so far.

One story line from the week was that captain Thierry Henry flew to England to visit his friend Fabrice Muamba, who is still recovering from his cardiac arrest in hospital. As a testament to his friend, the entire New York team entered the field wearing t-shirts with "Get well soon Muamba" on the front and the player's number 6 on the back.

Perhaps spurred on by emotion, the Red Bulls made the best possible start to the game, taking a two goal lead inside of 7 minutes, with Henry the architect.

Pressure by midfielder Joel Lindpere forced Colorado defender Ross LaBauex into a bad pass to Henry who found himself 1-on-1 with the last defender. The Frenchman cut the ball onto his left foot and finished at the near post to give his team the early lead.

The scoreline was doubled three minutes later when Henry played a defense splitting pass to Kenny Cooper, who touched the ball past the last defender and finished from a tight angle.

The deeper Henry played in this game, the more his team created. The touches, passing and dribbling we'd come accustomed to in his Arsenal days seemed to be back in full force and it seamed to be a matter of when, not if, the Red Bulls would score again.

However, the team had to wait until the second half before they added their third goal. Defender Conde took a free-kick from inside his own half which found Henry, who sprung the Rapids offside trap and got in 1-on-1 with the Colorado keeper Matt Pickens. The Red Bulls captain opened up his body and slipped the ball past the onrushing keeper to all but wrap up the points.

There was still time for more goals however as a Marquez give away in a dangerous area gifted the ball to Colorado forward Omar Cummings, who finished emphatically into the top corner from outside the box. Red Bulls rookie goalkeeper Ryan Meara, impressive once again in just his third career start, had no chance with the shot.

Kenny Cooper wrapped up the scoring, tapping home Roy Miller's centered ball in the 89th minute. There was still time for Henry to try and wrap up his first MLS hat-trick, but ultimately his left footed shot was saved by Pickens.

It was a vintage masterclass performance from Henry, Conde looked fantastic in his first match for the team and Dax McCarty had probably his best performance since moving to New York last season. Ryan Meara took the man of the match honors, but quite possibly because of the number people in the crowd from Fordham University, who Meara was drafted from this winter.

An announced attendance of 21,024 were treated to a fantastic performance which somewhat eradicated the memory of the previous two losses and gave hope once again, that this may finally be their year.
Craig Hutchinson

Total articles: 3

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