45 minutes gone at Gillette Stadium, and the second leg of the Eastern Conference Championship between the New England Revolution and New York Red Bulls is all square, 1-1, leaving the Revolution 45 scoreless minutes from advancing and the Red Bulls a goal — or two – from extra time or advancing themselves.
It wasn’t a pretty first 20 minutes with both sides registering just one shot each, but the aggregate series’ second leg exploded to life after 25 minutes and things got more than a little interesting.
Tim Cahill, the Red Bulls’ much-maligned, high-priced Designated Player, fought and willed his side back into the series with an all-effort opening goal after 26 minutes (above video). Thierry Henry chipped a pinpoint ball over the top of Revs defender Jose Goncalves, onto the chest of Cahill. Cahill did well to bring the ball down and control it, as did Goncalves to get between the attacker and ball, shielding for goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth to come out and claim it.
But Cahill would not be denied, bringing a new meaning to the term “nutmegging,” by going between the legs of Goncalves, from behind, poking the ball past Shuttleworth and bringing the Red Bulls within a goal of advancing to MLS Cup 2014.
Red Bulls defender Jamison Olave nearly gave his side that series-leading goal in the 37th minute following an Henry corner kick that fell to Eric Alexander, who scuffed the volleyed effort into the artificial turf from outside the 18-yard box, onto the diving head of Olave, who sent the redirected effort inches over the crossbar.
The Red Bulls, as they have so often this year, had a firm hold on the run of play for the following 15 minutes with the Revs looking uncharacteristically flat, only to concede a goal from nothing (below video).
Lee Nguyen and Chris Tierney worked a short corner routine before the latter whipped in a curling left-footed cross. Tierney’s ball seemed to come off the head of forward Charlie Davies, redirect off his thigh and trickle inside the far post.
The Revs’ equalizing goal doesn’t change the series all that much, though. The Red Bulls needed a second goal before Davies poked the ball home, and they still need a second one now. The one difference: that second goal would now send the series to extra time, rather than win the series for the Red Bulls.