All week, New York Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe talked about starting stronger, and his team responded with their most dominant 45 minutes of home soccer this season.
But it didn’t matter much as the Columbus Crew counterattacked their way to a 3-1 win at Red Bull Arena on Thursday night.
The road victory, the first of the season for the Crew, puts them atop the Eastern Conference with two games in hand over New York.
In a half where New York held all the meaningful possession and chances—including twice the number of corner kicks—it was Columbus that would tally first. Against the run of play in the 35th minute, Frankie Hejduk whipped in a cross from the right flank, which found the head of Eddie Gaven. The former MetroStars midfielder then nodded home his second goal of the season past a diving Bouna Coundoul.
The Red Bulls pressed for a fast equalizer, and Sinisa Ubiparipovic's blast struck the post in the 36th minute.
But Columbus would stick a dagger into the home team’s chances just three minutes after Ubiparipovic’s clanger, and this time Gaven would turn provider. From a corner kick, Gaven’s perfectly weighted drive into the box met a rising Andy Iro, whose header found the back of the net to double the score.
The Red Bulls picked up where they left off the first half, dominating possession and opportunities. No chance was better than in the 50th minute when Dane Richards, streaking down the right wing, bravely fought off a physical challenge from Iro to go one-one-one on Columbus’ goal. For the second time in the game, but not the last, a New York effort hit the post, with Richards’ shot beating William Hesmer in goal but not the woodwork.
The goalkeeper’s best friend factored in one final time. In the 60th minute the Red Bulls were presented with a free kick opportunity just two yards from the edge of the area. Juan Pablo Angel struck the dead ball precisely, but like two efforts before, the striker’s effort found the crossbar.
The Red Bulls looked to have finally broken through to make a game of it when in the 81st minute second-half substitute Tony Tchani scored a header for his first career goal off Carlos Mendes' cross.
But moments later, Columbus’ second-half substitute Emilio Renteria got the ball deep in the attacking third. The forward swept the ball to his right and past the keeper, placing his shot into an empty net for his first goal in league play.
Columbus Crew 3 at New York Red Bulls 1
Columbus Crew (5-0-2) vs. New York Red Bulls (5-4-0) May 20, 2010 -- Red Bull Arena
Scoring Summary: CLB -- Eddie Gaven 2 (Frankie Hejduk 2) 35 CLB -- Andy Iro 2 (Eddie Gaven 2) 39 NY -- Tony Tchani 1 (Carlos Mendes 1) 81 CLB -- Emilio Renteria 1 (unassisted) 83
Columbus Crew -- William Hesmer, Frankie Hejduk, Eric Brunner, Andy Iro, Danny O'Rourke, Eddie Gaven, Brian Carroll, Adam Moffat (Jed Zayner 57), Emmanuel Ekpo (Emilio Renteria 68), Steven Lenhart, Jason Garey (Duncan Oughton 89).
New York Red Bulls -- Bouna Coundoul, Chris Albright (Carlos Mendes 71), Mike Petke, Tim Ream, Danleigh Borman, Jeremy Hall (John Wolyniec 68), Sinisa Ubiparipovic (Tony Tchani 65), Roy Miller, Seth Stammler, Dane Richards, Juan Pablo Angel
Misconduct Summary: CLB -- Adam Moffat (caution; Tactical Foul) 52 CLB -- Andy Iro (caution; Reckless Tackle) 60 NY -- Seth Stammler (caution; Reckless Foul) 75 NY -- Tim Ream (caution; Tactical Foul) 85
Referee: Baldomero Toledo Referee's Assistants: C.J. Morgante; Peter Manikowski 4th Official: Jorge Gonzalez Attendance: 11,940 Time of Game: 1:52 Weather: Clear-and-80-degrees