In a game they needed to win to regain momentum, the Red Bulls churned out a 2-0 home win against the Dynamo on Sunday afternoon.
Even with the return of Tim Cahill to the team after his participation in Australia's successful qualification for next summer's World Cup, the Red Bulls looked lethargic in the attack for much of the contest. But with the game beginning to smell like a listless tie, it was in the 60th minute when Eric Alexander played a through-ball to Fabian Espindola, one that perfectly split the Dynamo backline and sent the Argentine striker in alone on goal.
Espindola carried the ball into the Dynamo penalty area and slid his shot just under Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall for a 1-0 lead.
"It wasn't whatever you guys like to label as a must-win game or something. It was a very vital game to get a result," Red Bulls coach Mike Petke said. "To be honest, at the end of the day, we dominated like I feel like we did — and created so many chances, if it would have ended in a draw today I would have been disappointed, but it would have been a positive step for us. It's important for us to get back in the mentality we were before the break, which is solid defense all around and getting those opportunities going forward and getting chances."
For Espindola, it was a much-needed goal, just his fourth of the season after he opened the season with two goals on March 3. After the tally by Espindola, the game opened for New York for the final third of the match, turning into one-way traffic for the home team.
But as much as Espindola needed the goal, the Red Bulls needed the win just as badly.
Losers of their last two in league play — and with only one point from their last three matches — the Red Bulls had to have three points against their conference rival. Atop the Eastern Conference a month ago by virtue of playing more games than anyone else in the league, New York slipped to fourth place as they entered Sunday's match. A win was needed to remain relevant.
The game was capped in the 88th when Henry fed a square ball across the penalty area to Jonny Steele, who left-footed a blast into the top corner for his fourth goal of the season.
With the win, the Red Bulls vaulted into a temporary tie for first place in the Eastern Conference with 29 points. Montreal, who entered the day in sole possession of first place, don't play again till Wednesday.