Richards, Red Bulls shock Houston to advance

Posted on 09 November 2008 by ASN Staff

Dane Richards scored one goal and set up another in a deciding portion of the first half as the New York Red Bulls beat the defending Houston Dynamo to pull off a stunning upset in the first round playoff series. The Red Bulls got a late goal by John Wolyniec to give New York a 3-0 victory and win the series 4-1 on aggregate and advance to play Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference finals.

It is only the second time in franchise history that New York has advanced past the first round of the playoffs, but the first time (in 2000) was not unexpected. Today’s triumph, by contrast, goes down as one of the more shocking upsets not only in the annals of the club but in the history of the entire league. The Red Bulls were stung by late season suspensions to Jeff Parke and Jon Conway for violating the league’s performance enhancing drug policy that left an already weak defense relying on an untested second-year goalkeeper. Given a last chance to capture a playoff spot by their own hand, the team turned in perhaps its worst performance of the entire season, losing 5-2 at Chicago. After that loss, several pundits (ASN included) began questioning if head coach Juan Carlos Osorio should resign. When the Red Bulls finally made the playoffs after arch rival DC United lost to Columbus on the final day of the regular season, it did so as the lowest-ranked team and in the Western Conference bracket. Many fans hoped for a quick end against the two-time defending champions. Now, with the two lowest seeded teams facing off in the Western Conference final, New York suddenly has a very real chance of advancing to the MLS Cup for the first time in its history. The Red Bulls have already played at Real Salt Lake’s Rio Tinto Stadium once (they tied, 1-1) and hold the edge over RSL in the season series.

There are obviously no calls for Osorio to resign now. The Colombian, in his first year as Red Bulls head coach, took a massive gamble in the playoff series when he benched the team’s three midseason acquisitions in favor of untested rookies and second year players. The move worked. Even though the Red Bulls gave up a late equalizer in the first leg of the Houston series, the young players–particularly Luke Sassano, who held Houston dangerman Dwayne DeRosario in check–were effective. As a result, Osorio went with the same lineup in the return leg at Robertson stadium.

“When it comes down to playing against Houston, to have a good chance you have to have a team spirit,” said Osorio in justifying his decision. “I think we did that last week, and I was pleased with all the guys that started, so that’s why I gave them a second chance this time around.”

Today, it was Dane Richards who stole the show, turning in what was in all likelihood his best individual performance since he as drafted out of Clemson University in 2007. Richards gave the visitors a 1-0 lead on 25 minutes when Sinisa Ubiparipovic found him on a through ball. Richards blew past Wade Barrett and into the box, where he rifled an attempt from 12 yards out past Pat Onstad.

“A lot had been said about the rivalry between him and the fullback (Wade) Barrett, but I think at the end, Dane got the better of the two with his pace,” said Osorio.

Ten minutes later, Richards’ speed again set the Red Bulls’ second goal when he ran free down the right and his cross was handled by Ricardo Clark and referee Baldomero Toledo pointed to the spot. Angel stepped up and put his penalty kick into the side netting to Onstad’s right to give the Red Bulls a 2-0 lead.

Richards helped clinch the stunning victory when he made a remarkable run to the end line, crossing the ball in front to Wolyniec, who tapped the ball into the empty net in the 81st minute to ensure that there will be a new MLS Cup champion.

Match Facts

New York Red Bulls vs. Houston Dynamo
2008 MLS Playoffs, Western Conference semifinals, second leg
November 9, 2008 — Robertson Stadium

Scoring Summary:
NY– Dane Richards 1 (Sinisa Ubiparipovic) 25
NY — Juan Pablo Angel 2 (Penalty Kick) 36
NY — John Wolyniec 1 (Richards), 80

Lineups:

Houston Dynamo — Pat Onstad, Richard Mulrooney, Bobby Boswell, Eddie Robinson, Wade Barrett (Corey Ashe, 45), Brian Mullan, Ricardo Clark, Dwayne De Rosario, Brad Davis, Kei Kamara (Nate Jaqua, 53′), Brian Ching.

Substitutes Not Used: Tony Caig, Patrick Ianni, Craig Waibel, Geoff Cameron, Stuart Holden,

New York Red Bulls — Danny Cepero, Andrew Boyens, Chris Leitch, Kevin Goldthwaite, Diego Jimenez, Dane Richards (Macoumba Kandji, 84), Luke Sassano, Sinisa Ubiparipovic, Dave van den Bergh (Carlos Mendes, 87), John Wolyniec, Juan Pablo Angel.

Substitutes Not Used: Caleb Patterson-Sewell, Gabriel Cichero, Juan Pietravallo, Jorge Rojas, Mike Magee.

Misconduct Summary:
NY — Dave van den Bergh (caution; tactical foul) 5
NY — Kevin Goldthwaite (caution; tactical foul) 28
NY — Luke Sassano (caution; tactical foul) 47+
Hou — Eddie Robinson (caution; ) 62
Hou — Brian Mullan (caution; ) 73

Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Referee’s Assistants: Joe Fletcher, Sean Hurd
4th official: Alex Prus
Time of game: 1:
Attendance: 30,053
Weather: Sunny and 74 degrees

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