By DAN MONTESANO
It was certainly not the way the New York Red Bulls envisioned the beginning of the Tim Cahill era.
The Houston Dynamo thoroughly dominated the Red Bulls Friday night, earning a 2-0 win at BBVA Compass Stadium. The victory helped Houston leapfrog New York to take first place in the Eastern Conference. The Red Bulls have now dropped two straight league matches, after falling to Montreal earlier in the week.
The Dynamo outplayed the Red Bulls from the start of the match, with New York looking like a flat and lifeless bunch. Missing midfielder Dax McCarty, right back Brandon Barklage and Rafa Marquez, the Red Bulls lacked cohesion, organization and energy in Cahill's first MLS match.
Houston opened the scoring just two minutes into the match, after Jermaine Taylor used his knee to guide the ball into the net after a frantic scramble in front of New York's goal. The Dynamo struck again in the 28th minute when Calen Carr headed in a cross that beat New York goalkeeper Bill Gaudette.
The Dynamo kept the Red Bulls on their heels for much of the day, with Mac Kandji's work on the left flank and Oscar Boniek Garcia's contributions in midfield helping to control the action for the home team.
Cahill struggled to get into the flow of the game, and was forced to play a full 90 minutes, when coach Hans Backe was forced to use his final remaining subsitution when Wilmon Conde picked up an injury in the second half.
The Red Bulls will have a chance to avenge the loss when Houston travels to Red Bull Arena on August 10.