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New York’s second half surge helps Red Bulls claim first major honor, end Chicago’s season

Oct 27, 2013, 7:27 PM EDT

Tim Cahill 2

Mike Petke’s team was even going into halftime, but the New York head coach was far from happy. One of the keys he’d tried to emphasis this week — the need to keep track of Chicago star Mike Magee — had failed to set in, with the Fire forward opening the game’s scoring with his league-leading 21st goal. Thierry Henry had pulled New York even before the break, but the intensity Petke took into the locker room made it clear. His team was about to get an attitude adjustment.

Four minutes into the second half, Ibrahim Sekagya gave New York the lead. Then came Lloyd Sam’s goal. Erik Alexander got behind the defense in the 77th minute, and Jonny Steele piled on six minutes from time, before Quincy Amarikwa consolation.. In the span of 45 minutes, a 1-1 game that was set to cost New York the Supporters’ Shield had turned into a rout, the Red Bulls’ 5-2 victory not only ending the Fire’s season but giving the New York club their first major honor.

The team had made it to one MLS Cup final, losing in 2008. They’d won the East two other times (2000, 2010) but failed to claim silverware. In 2003, they made it to the U.S. Open Cup final. Before Sunday, the most significant honors New York had ever won were regional (Atlantic Cups) or exhibitions (Emirates Cup). Yet after running Chicago out of Red Bull Arena in today’s second half, New York has claimed the 2013 Supporters’ Shield.

With that honor comes home field advantage throughout the playoffs, an achievement that’s particularly noteworthy when you consider the field New York’s had to hold off. Sporting Kansas City, Portland Timbers, and Real Salt Lake would all be worthy winners under other circumstances, and late in the season, the two-time defending champions (LA Galaxy) made a late push. But unbeaten in eight to close their campaign, New York surged to this honor, outscoring their opponents 8-2 over the season’s final eight days.

Petke deserves a huge amount of credit, and given the authority with which New York’s closed the season, expect the first-year boss to garner a lot of votes for Coach of the Year. Although he seems to be an underdog in that race (to Caleb Porter), the changes he’s instilled deserve just as much attention. Whereas in the Henry era New York has been a consistently good team that’s failed to reach its potential, Petke has the Red Bulls performing best when the results matter most, whether you’re looking at last month’s hamstrung draw in Seattle or today’s Shield-clinching performance. The young coach’s focus, passion, and intensity are evident throughout this team.

Jamison Olave’s come in to marshall the defense, Dax McCarty continues to be a rock in midfield, while Thierry Henry still reminds us that he’s the best player in Major League Soccer on those occasions that he wants to be. It will be Petke’s job to make sure Henry’s sees this year’s playoffs as his chance to cement his MLS legacy.

But more and more, Tim Cahill seems like the heartbeat of this team, with the Australia international playing a crucial role on the Sekagya goal that claimed today’s lead for good. At midseason, while Petke was working through issues with Henry, Cahill started producing, tossing aside concerns about his lack of production. The 34-year-old finished the season with 11 goals. Like his coach, Cahill will get some late consideration for postseason honors.

But after today, the honor that matters most to New York is MLS Cup, their dreams of claiming silverware having been fulfilled with today’s rout in Harrison. After 17 years with an empty trophy case, New York has finally claimed their first major honor, and while some time to enjoy the achievement has been earned, the quest for trophy number two starts next weekend. The Red Bulls will be the top seed in MLS’s playoffs.

  1. hildezero - Oct 27, 2013 at 7:39 PM

    “The team had made it to one MLS Cup final, losing in 2008. They’d won the East two other times (2000, 2010) but failed to claim silverware.”

    What? That doesn’t make sense. How can they win the east two times, but then only appear in the final once? If that’s the case, then they only won the east once when they got to the final, right? Remember, two clubs advance to the final. One from the east and one from the west. Both become conference champions. Therefore, getting silverware. By 2000 and 2010, I think you mean, they led the east and won home field advantage.

    • Richard Farley - Oct 27, 2013 at 7:47 PM

      You posted your interpretation of this in another thread, and it’s been noted. I doesn’t seem like others have as much trouble with this as you’re having, so while you have an interesting point, it doesn’t seem to be as big an issue as you’re making it. Most people seem to have little problem with the regular season leaders being referred to as conference champions.

  2. footballer4ever - Oct 27, 2013 at 8:47 PM


    Knock it off, buddy. You got a point, bring it up, but the tone of it sounds you are looking for the author’s or anyone’s attention. P(S)T’s authors are kind and patient with some of you just looking for errors just to expose them out as if they know nothing and that is not nice to say the least.

  3. mdac1012 - Oct 27, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    After 18 years of not winning anything, it’s a little extra special that Mike Petke is the coach that finally delivers a trophy to the Red Bulls. Besides the obvious big plays by Cahill, Henry and others these last few games, the biggest difference between this RB team and teams of the last few years is this team looked like they actually wanted it as opposed to times in the past where they looked lost and completely uninterested on the pitch.

    I thought having Olave shadow Mike Magee the second half was an important adjustment by Petke, it essentially took Magee out of the game. Also Luyindula did a nice job in the central MF. He took some funky looking shots but he made good decisions and was constantly looking to move the ball forward and press up the pitch.

  4. hildezero - Oct 27, 2013 at 11:40 PM


    Hey, man. I’m not looking for attention, I’m just telling the truth. Besides, you’re the one paying attention. Also, “tone”? Really? Can you tell me how does my “tone” sound? XD Mr. Farley is being clueless. He doesn’t know that there are other people that wonder the same thing when journalists claim that kinda same statement. He took it up the @$$…

    • Richard Farley - Oct 27, 2013 at 11:50 PM

      I’m not clueless as to other people wondering, but as I see these press releases from MLS teams hit my inbox acknowledging Portland and New York as conference champions, I can’t help but wonder which one of us is clueless.

      I’d say neither of us. You have a point, but you’re going about it all wrong. Instead of say the teams that makes the MLS Cup final are the conference champions, you might say they should be considered as such. Because your contention that they are is a preference, not a fact.

  5. hildezero - Oct 28, 2013 at 1:07 AM

    Okay. You made your point on your second paragraph. I get you now…

    • Richard Farley - Oct 29, 2013 at 1:38 PM

      So hildezero:

      After thinking about my justification for calling New York and Portland “conference champions” (and having a friend go through the same process with me as you did), I followed up with the league.

      I know, I know. I should have done that before. But I guess seeing those press releases and a couple of team web sites (which called themselves conference champions when finishing first in the regular season), I thought I had the league’s word.

      But those words were as wrong as mine. The official conference champions are the two teams that pay in the MLS Cup final – just as you wanted/said.

      So mea culpa! You were correct. I was wrong. And thanks for bringing this up. Your persistence forced me to double check.

      Picking up where my previous comment left of … “your contention that they are is a preference, and fact.”


  6. footballer4ever - Oct 29, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    @ hildezero,

    Mr. Farley was kind and man enough to admit the mistake and to your rude and tamtrum-like attitude. By the same token, man up and apologize for your vulgar ways towards him when you said “He took it up the @$$”

    An individual is respected not for how much “truth” he preaches, but how that truth is presented. In your case, your social skills, or lackthere of, are highly questionable.

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