The Red Bulls were full aware that last week's performance against the Houston Dynamo was awful, and not good enough for a team with championship aspirations. After an intense week of training, the Red Bulls came out on Friday and showed that they are still very much one of the teams to beat in the Eastern Conference.
After out-playing the Dynamo in a scoreless first half, the Red Bulls finally broke through in the second half, with Tim Cahill playing provider. He skied up for a header that blasted off teammate Markus Holgersson and into the net to give the Red Bulls a 1-0 lead, then he helped set up an insurance goal when he dished to Thierry Henry, who dished to Jan Gunnar Solli for the final goal in a 2-0 victory at Red Bull Arena on Friday night.
The Red Bulls victory snapped a five-match winning streak for the Dynamo, and helped New York jump back into first place in the Eastern Conference.
The Dynamo had their chances to score, but the Red Bulls played some outstanding defense, with Connor Lade standing out by shutting down former Red Bull Macoumba Kandji.
The harsh words Henry had for his team after last week's loss to Houston, which including ripping players for being too nice to Kandji, clearly sent a message as the Red Bulls got involved in multiple tussles with Kandji, who was a shadow of the player who did so well against New York last week.
The return of Dax McCarty in central midfield was also vital to New York's success on Friday, with his work in the middle freeing up Tim Cahill and Joel Lindpere to attack more. Lindpere was particularly impressive in his return to the starting lineup.
Cahill failed to make an impact in the first half, but showed his quality on the opening goal when he jumped high in the air to head a Roy Miller cross at goal. The header hit Holgersson and went into the net for the opening goal of the night and Cahill's first MLS assist.
Houston pushed hard for an equalizer, and looked like a good bet to find one as the second half went on, but the Red Bulls kept playing tenacious defense and kept a dangerous Dynamo attack off the scoreboard.
The match marked the first appearance for Ricardo Clark since returning to MLS. Clark played the final 15 minutes in his first match since signing with the team he helped win two MLS Cups with before moving to Europe three years ago.
The match also saw the return of Rafa Marquez, who made his first appearance since July 15th in a brief five-minute cameo.
Here are the match highlights: