Photo by Howard C. Smith/ISIPhotos.com
BY DAVE MARTINEZ
So close, yet so far.
With a franchise record six consecutive wins within their grasp, the New York Red Bulls failed to convert on a plethora of chances en route to a 1-1 draw against the visiting Chivas USA.
In fitting fashion, former Red Bulls star Juan Pablo Angel returned to the stadium he once called home and delivered a goal on the same night fans honored him with a TIFO display.
Returning to Red Bull Arena for the first time since 2010, Angel made an immediate impression. He broke a stalemate two minutes into the second half with a wicked whip on a loose ball in the box to open the scoring.
"First of all, I am really happy to have played a full 90 minutes. Everyone knows I am just coming back from having issues with a concussion," said Angel, who was honored by Red Bulls fans with a special display unveiled during the match (pictured above). "So to start, I am happy but even happier with the result, especially earning this result against one of the best teams in the league."
"They had their chances and we had our chances, but I think overall it was very entertaining for the people in attendance."
The Red Bulls walked away with a point in a match when they had the better of the chances, a frustrating end to the team's five-match winning streak.
"We should have won this game," Red Bulls Coach Hans Backe said after the match. "Of course, we had our chances. Sometimes games end up with a tie when it's not always logical in football, but I must say I'm pleased with the performance."
Angel's goal seemed to revive the Red Bulls. Minutes after Angel's goal, Kenny Cooper netted his league-leading 11th goal of the season, tying him with San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski for the league lead. Brandon Barklage found an inspired Dane Richards, who was having his way with the left side of the Chivas defense. Richards sped past his defender and laid off a precision pass across the goal mouth, finding a wide-open Cooper for the tying notch.
"He deserves it," Backe said of his star striker. "He's a hard worker, every game, every training session. And of course he has some good guys around him who can feed him with precise passes."
The returning Thierry Henry would press the entire night, and lead the Red Bulls in the final minutes of the match to find the gamewinner, but fell short of the goal.
"He was very, very close three or four times to have a free runner and to finish the game off," Backe noted. "So I am happy with his performance."
New York continued to pour on the pressure against the visitors, but failed to convert on their chances.
The Red Bulls remain undefeated through six matches as they head into a lull in MLS action. Their next match will be in the third round of the US Open Cup against the Charleston Battery in South Carolina this coming Tuesday. They will return to MLS action against the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park on June 17th.