Sunday, May 06, 2007

...And, Sometimes, a Tie is Thrilling -- I wrote that D.C. United fans couldn't be satisfied with the tie Thursday night. However, the fans of Real Salt Lake must be thrilled with their team's tie, this night. Coming into this game, RSL looked outmatched by the New York Red Bulls on every level, including the coaching. Jason Kreis was making his coaching debut, after his sudden retirement and elevation, and was taking on the most experienced coach in U.S. Soccer, the Red Bulls' Bruce Arena.

The Red Bulls broke out to a 2-0 halftime lead, and looked well on their way to their 5th straight win to start the season -- and RSL's rookie goalie, U. of Md. star, Chris Seitz, was looking especially overmatched, as his misplays were at least partly to blame on both goals. In the second half, RSL got one goal back on Chris Klein's terrific blast from distance. Then, the Red Bulls also lost their starting goalkeeper, Dutch international Ronald Waterreus. RSL fans must have thought things were moving their way, but New York's Clint Mathis punctured the balloon with his second goal of the game.

Miraculously, RSL won a penalty kick, in the 89th minute, when the Red Bulls' Jeff Parke fouled Carey Talley. Jeff Cunningham buried the kick to move RSL within a goal of New York, with the game now in stoppage time. The home crowd of over 14,000 surely went home ecstatic, when RSL got the tying goal less than two minutes later. Chris Brown chased down a long pass over the defense from the young'un, Freddy Adu. Brown spun with the ball at the edge of the box, and went around the defender as he drove towards goal. Brown finished the play, beating Red Bulls' goalie Jon Conway with a shot to the far post, for the tying goal, before the final whistle.

RSL's tie tonight was very reminiscent of the win they pulled out against D.C. United last July with a penalty kick in the 89th minute, and another goal in stoppage time to beat United 2-1. That game seemed to signal the drastic reversal in United's fortunes last year. Before that game, United had dominated the other MLS teams. After that crushing loss, United became an average team, at best. The Red Bulls will have to be stronger than United was in rebounding from the disappointment of letting the win get away, giving up two goals in the final minutes.

Some ties are better than others. Not a bad start for Jason Kreis' coaching career -- it might ease the pain he'll feel, when Jaime Moreno passes him for all-time league scoring honors tomorrow (it could happen).... D.C. United hosts Chivas USA -- a game that features the only two active players with more than 100 goals: United's Moreno, and Chivas' Ante Razov.

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