By MIKE NASTRI
The New York Red Bulls surprised many supporters and maybe even themselves with a tie against English juggernaut, Arsenal. The draw clinched the Emirates Cup for New York beating out Boca Juniors, Paris Saint-Germain and host Arsenal for the European preseason prize.
"We definitely represent MLS and I was a little bit worried at the beginning before the tournament that we shouldn’t embarrass ourselves," head coach Hans Backe told the A.P. after New York's win against PSG on Saturday. ”So today it was OK. It will be 10 times worse tomorrow [against Arsenal]."
It was better than OK for the Red Bulls as Thierry Henry set up the equalizing goal against Arsenal in the 85 minute. Henry held the ball at the top of the box and played a precise ball to a cutting Roy Miller. Miller sent a dangerous cross into the six-yard box and amidst a scramble in front of goal, Arsenal defender Kyle Bartley knocked the ball into his own net.
After dominating the first half, Arsenal scored a much deserved goal in the 42nd minute. Tomas Rosicky played a long free kick to Robin van Persie, who powered a header past Red Bulls keeper Frank Rost to give the Gunners a 1-0 lead.
The draw with Arsenal came on the heels of a win over PSG on Saturday. Without the services of Rafa Marquez and Thierry Henry, New York took a first half lead off a Joel Lindpere goal. In the 27th minute, the Estonian played a give-and-go with Juan Agudelo and received the ball alone at the top of the box. Lindpere took the chance well, hitting a left-footed shot past PSG keeper Salvatore Sirigu for the only goal of the match.
Both European sides are in preseason form, but many of their top guns played major minutes in the matches against the Red Bulls. The Red Bulls played organized defense and looked dangerous at times, while never having their full starting XI on the field at once. The Emirates Cup victory serves as a confidence boost for a team that has struggled to score goals and play a full ninety minutes of organized defense over the past couple months.
New York will have six days to rest and practice ahead of a key tilt against Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto on Saturday.
What did you think of New York's performance in the Emirates Cup? Hoping the Red Bulls can play like that against RSL? Excited to see an MLS side play well against two quality European sides? Share your thoughts below.