Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
HARRISON, N.J. — Broadway might be in Manhattan, but under the bright lights of Red Bull Arena, Aurelien Collin took center stage.
Collin was dominant on both sides of the ball, scoring his first goal of the season and marking Thierry Henry the entire match, making the Red Bulls forward nearly invisible throughout.
Using their trademark physical defense, Sporting Kansas City defeated the New York Red Bulls 1-0 on Wednesday night in front of an announced crowd of 12,338.
“It’s always a big challenge to play against [Henry],” Collin said. “We have to stay very focused and he had a couple of opportunities he could have scored, but we are very happy with the result.”
Sporting got the only goal of the match in the 13th minute, when Collin out-muscled Red Bulls defender Jamison Olave on a corner kick and headed home from eight yards away. From then on, the steel curtain that is Kansas City’s back four plus goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen kept the door shut on the hosts.
“They have a system they play and they have everybody onboard, every single person,” Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke said, emphasizing the last three words. “You’re looking at a guy like Graham Zusi in the 88th minute chasing 30 yards back. That’s commitment.”
To make matters worse, the Red Bulls lost Olave in the 33rd minute to a left knee injury, forcing Petke to bring on Heath Pearce.
“Initial feedback from the trainers is just a little bit of a twist,” Petke said. “To the extent of how bad it is, I don’t know yet.”
In the second half, the Red Bulls had opportunities to score, but it was Collin who time and time again found a way to frustrate the home side. Henry came close on one occasion, but saw his best chance miss wide by inches.
“I think he saved four or five (chances) on crosses when we were about to score,” Henry said. “We didn’t create enough today, and sometimes you have to be honest with yourself.”
As the match wore on, the Red Bulls had fewer and fewer chances. Eric Alexander and Tim Cahill, both having played wide midfield, had forgettable days and were taken off in the second half, replaced by Ruben Bover and 18-year-old Marius Obekop, respectively. For Obekop it was his MLS debut, coming on for the final 13 minutes of the match, and recording two shots, though none of them found the target.
“He’s an exciting player,” Petke said about Obekop. “He earned a spot to get on in that situation. I thought he was okay in his debut.”
Sporting KC took off Claudio Bieler in the 74th minute after a challenge in the box left the Ecuadorian forward holding his head in pain. Though he got up under his own power, Sporting manager Peter Vermes thought it better to leave him out there, and brought on Lawrence Olum to replace Bieler.
The Red Bulls ran out of steam at the end of the match, with emotions taking over as Juninho was shown a straight red card during injury time for kicking the ball at Nielsen, who was setting up for a goal kick.
“At the end of the day, I’m not happy,” Petke said. “We lost to a good team, at home. I’m not happy at all.”
Here are the match highlights: