After coming up short on July 4 against the Rapids, the Red Bulls took out their frustration on the then East-leading Montreal Impact last Saturday.
The goals came early and often for New York, as they blitzed Montreal and waltzed their way to an easy 4-0 win. The Red Bulls pushed forward on the pitch, pressing the Impact into their own half and played the game on the front foot throughout the entire night. From Eric Alexander's wonder strike in the 10th minute to Peguy Luyindula's penalty-kick goal in the 88th, New York owned the match from start to finish.
“We wanted to go out there [Saturday] and when relevant to get after them and press them,” Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke said in his postgame press conference. “Not like crazy men, not to run 40 yards to pressure the ball. But when put ourselves in good situations, it's our home field; we wanted to be the dominant side [Saturday].”
Alexander was the catalyst for the Red Bulls on this night, probing down the right wing and torturing Impact left back Jeb Brovsky all through the night. The midfielder opened the scoring in the 10th minute with sparking individual effort, dribbling past three defenders before side-footing a shot past Montreal goalie Troy Perkins for the first of the night. New York would continue to rampage down the Impact's left wing throughout the match, a weakness that the Red Bulls targeted in scouting the Impact.
“We really emphasized on some key things Montreal does in pregame and especially Eric Alexander on the first goal is an exact product of what we pointed out to him, to go after Brovsky one-on-one when the situation called for it,” Petke said.
Alexander's explanation for his wonder goal was simple: he was just taking whatever Montreal was giving him.
“I don't really remember too much, I haven't seen the replay of the goal,” Alexander said. [I] just remember getting a final touch on the inside and was able to slot slide it home. There was a lot of space in the game … when the game opens up like that, there's a lot of space on the wing. I was getting good balls from my teammates and they were making good off-the-ball runs just to give me one-on-one situations.”
Thierry Henry would get in on the act just sixth minutes later, tallying his seventh goal of the season with a skillful volley past Perkins on a cross from Fabian Espindola in the 16th minute. It was Henry's first goal since May 26 and his seventh goal in four career matches against the Impact. The captain busted out with a huge individual game – a goal and two assists – but was more pleased about the team showing to bounce back after their last match.
“We had a bad day at the office against Colorado,” he said after the game. “Maybe the same thing happened to Montreal tonight. We all know how it feels because we were in the same situation last week, but we bounced back. The most important thing is to try to be consistent.”
Tim Cahill and Luyindula would goals in the second half to complete the rout.
Up Next: Toronto FC
The Red Bulls’ game against Toronto FC Saturday comes at the right time, as New York sits just two points behind Sporting Kansas City for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. With Toronto being 2-10-7 this season, the Red Bulls have a golden opportunity to gain a valuable three points.
Toronto has been a happy hunting ground for New York, especially in recent visits. New York has an eight-game unbeaten streak north of the border and, in the Red Bulls’ last visit to Toronto on April 27, Cahill would prove to be the hero, scoring the game-winning goal in stoppage time.
While the Red Bulls had their midweek friendly against Olympique Lyonnais Tuesday, Toronto will be even more inconvenienced after playing a league match Wednesday against Chivas USA in LA, losing 1-0. Flying from one coast to the other midweek is not ideal and New York will obviously be targeting this fixture as a win.
Toronto has scored the second-fewest goals in MLS this season, but they do have dangerous attacking players. Robert Earnshaw leads Toronto with six goals this season and Bobby Convey is a former US international who can be a threat on the left wing.
Still, anything less than a victory would be considered a disappointment for the Red Bulls.