Red Bulls host Galaxy in second playoff round

Thierry Henry scored a goal in the 90th minute against FC Dallas.

A Red Bulls team known for its star-studded offense is being carried by the team’s defense.

That defense set the tone in Wednesday night’s 2-0 road win against FC Dallas in the wild-card round of the MLS playoffs. Now, the Red Bulls host the Los Angeles Galaxy, a team which captured the Supporters Shield with the best regular-season record in the league, on Sunday afternoon.

For all the glamour and expense of Thierry Henry, the hype around teenage forward Juan Agudelo and the clutch goals of speedy Dane Richards, it was tenacious defending that lifted New York into the next round of the playoffs.

Including their playoff win at Dallas, the Red Bulls have had five shutouts in their last eight games — a testament to what head coach Hans Backe calls “cynical defending.”

It is the type of gritty, no-nonsense defending that lifted the team on the road for their first playoff series win since 2008. It was a confident performance from what Backe called a “relaxed, calm team.”

“A solid game for us, definitely the key for us was defense,” Backe said. “I’m very pleased with our defense.”

At the beginning of the season, Backe looked at his roster with pride. He even set the team’s goal as the Supporters Shield, the standard for regular season consistency. After a hot start to their MLS campaign, including just one loss in their first eight games, the Red Bulls fizzled. Instead of cruising into the playoffs with the Supporters Shield in tow, they squeaked into the 10th and final playoff spot.

But over the last two months, there hasn’t been a better, more consistent team in league play. It isn’t the prettiest soccer, and not what would be expected of a team replete with international stars and talent, but it has been effective.

For Henry, who scored in stoppage time on Wednesday night to cap off the win, it is what’s necessary to get the win and advance in the playoffs.

“We had a great playoff game, maybe not one of our best performances in terms of passing the ball, but sometimes you have to dig in and win games,” Henry said. “If we want to go through, we had to play tight and have a great team performance. That’s what happened even going down to 10-men. We were under pressure, but we didn’t look like we’d concede a goal.”

The Red Bulls are 1-0-1 against the Galaxy this season, including a 2-0 win earlier this month.

“We have a lot of respect for them, they were the best team in the league this year so we know the task is going to be very difficult,” Henry said. “We were one of the few teams this year able to beat them, they know that.”

Follow Kristian Dyer on Twitter
@KristianRDyer for in-depth news on the Red Bulls.


Former cop shoots wife in front of children…

Former cop Kevin Canty, 43, was arrested over the weekend after police say he shot and killed his wife in their Ozone Park home.


Two young children killed in deadly Queens fire

Two 4-year-old children died after a blaze at their Far Rockaway home on Saturday night. The Queens fire injured three others, including a third sibling.


Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.


Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.


'Orphan Black' recap: Episode 1, ‘Nature Under Constraint…

Welcome to your first Season 2 “Orphan Black” recap! Hopefully Tatiana Maslany can help Tatiana Maslany get through this, with the help of Tatiana Maslany,…


Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."


Deron Williams leads Nets over Raptors in Game…

The Nets traveled to a raucous Air Canada Centre but came out with an important Game 1 victory over the Raptors.


Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.


Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.


Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…


Is camp right for introverts?

We ask an expert for tips on sending your introverted child to camp


How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.


VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.


#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.