By DAN KARELL
It may have been a surprise that the New York Red Bulls were able to score seven seconds into Sunday’s 3-0 victory at the Houston Dynamo, but the way the goal sequence played out was something that the Red Bulls players were familiar from practice.
Following the kickoff, Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry played the ball back to Dax McCarty, who sent a long ball down the right wing towards the run of Tim Cahill. Cahill somehow controlled the pass into his path and then unleashed a vicious strike with the outside of his right boot past Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall for a very early Red Bulls lead.
“It was funny because we have worked on that in practice a couple of times, but the play is actually that the (forwards) drop the ball back to me and I kind of just take a touch and lay it off to Ibrahim Sekagya,” McCarty told reporters in Houston after the match. “I couldn’t really get the message back to him quick enough, the kickoff happened, and I just had to make a quick decision. I closed my eyes and booted it and Cahill did the rest.
“What can you say, what a finish.”
The goal was the perfect start for the Red Bulls as they went on to win their second straight match in Houston after failing to win a regular season match there for seven seasons. Cahill’s strike was his 11th goal of the season and has certainly helped back any arguments for him to be named MLS MVP, considering how the team clinched a place in the playoffs with two weeks to go and are within reach of the club’s first ever title.
“It’s a great feeling because of how much the goal meant for us to settle down straight into the game,” Cahill said following the game. “We didn’t have to chase the game and after that we just had to keep our positions. For me it was a special goal and it’s something that I’ll never forget because of what it meant to our team and our football club.”
Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke admitted after the match as well that it was a play they had practiced on the training ground, but he didn’t exactly expect it to result in a goal.
“It’s designed, but I’d be lying if I said it’s designed to score a goal,” Petke told reporters. “It’s designed to put the ball in the opposition’s half. If we get a throw-in deep, that’s great, if we can get some sort of lucky bounce, which we did, it’s about putting it into the opposition’s half and hopefully winning it there and doing well.
“It just worked out perfect for us.”