BY ADAM SERRANO
CARSON, Calif–The New York Red Bulls may have been missing five starters, but it made little difference as New York picked up their second straight shutout by defeating the Los Angeles Galaxy, 1-0.
A first half goal by Joel Lindpere and a stellar performance from rookie goalkeeper Ryan Meara was all the Red Bulls needed to defeat the defending MLS Cup champions in front of a sell-out crowd at the Home Depot Center.
"We got a goal early and did what we had to do to keep the clean sheet in the game, it was a full team effort tonight," said Meara. "It's good that we're learning how to win these tight games sometimes our backs are going to be against the wall and we need to learn how to grind out victories so this was a great win."
The Galaxy were on the front foot early and nearly went ahead in the 14th minute when a Robbie Keane shot sailed over the New York defense, but was cleared off the line due to quick thinking by Red Bulls captain Markus Holgersson.
For all the Galaxy's pressure, it was New York who struck first blood in the 19th minute when Jan Gunnar Solli fired in a cross from the left side to Lindpere, who finished from a tight angle inside the box. With the goal advantage, the Red Bulls dropped numbers back in midfield giving the Galaxy offense fits as they attempted to break down an organized New York defense.
"This is the kind of effort, it was a total team effort," said Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe. "Under pressure, we didn't really allow them the real 100 percent scoring chances, it was a lot of crosses and half chances."
Los Angeles pushed ahead in the second half, but the young Red Bulls goalkeeper Meara repeatedly stopped the Galaxy's attempts with his commanding presence in the box. As the second half wore on, the Galaxy committed numbers forward and nearly broke through in the 74th minute when Landon Donovan threaded a pass to second half substitute Chad Barrett, but the forward fired his shot just wide of Meara's net.
With the clock ticking, the Galaxy maintained the onslaught, but each time Meara was there to deny them. Perhaps none of his four saves were finer than his fingertip save to deny a shot by Juninho from distance in the 82nd minute. After out shooting the New York 13-4 over the course of 90 minutes, the Galaxy were once again left to rue their missed opportunities.
“It’s a bit of a broken record,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said of the club's finishing. “Even giving up a goal we have enough chances to create a couple of goals in this game.”
The win was not the only bit of good news for the Red Bulls as forward Juan Agudelo came on the 82nd minute returning from a lengthy knee injury that the young forward suffered during CONCACAF Olympic qualifying in late March.
New York (5-3-1) will look to their third straight victory next week as they return to Red Bull Arena to host the Houston Dynamo while the Galaxy (3-5-1) head to Montreal to face the Impact next Saturday. Although the defending champions have now lost as many games as they had in the 2012 season, Donovan believes that his team must put their frustrations behind them and focus on picking up their next victory.
"It's just one of those periods in this game where things are going against us so there's no point in being down or worrying about it," said Donovan. "We just got to get ready and try next week."