They said it wasn’t a must-win game, not entering their third game of the season after an 0-2 start, but the New York Red Bulls sure played like the fate of their season rested on this match.
They got the complete effort they needed in Sunday’s 4-1 win over Colorado in their home opener.
Behind two goals and an assist by Thierry Henry and a Kenny Cooper brace, the Red Bulls frustrated a depleted Rapids midfield.
After starting the season with road losses in Dallas and Salt Lake by a combined 4-1 mark over the past two weeks, New York needed this win.
“You lost two games, you know, you’re a little bit under pressure,” head coach Hans Backe said. “You need to perform; you need to dig in. We want to be unbeatable in our stadium; that has to be the target. Make it the fortress, not just words.”
The Red Bulls came out with determination after their rocky starts in the past two games. Within six minutes, both Henry and Cooper had scored giving New York a lead they would never relinquish.
It was the most goals that they’ve scored since a 5-0 win on July 6 last year over Toronto FC.
“I think you could see the hunger in the team. Guys were playing with great energy and enthusiasm. It was great to get off to a good start in the game. From back to front, everyone was fantastic, from the first minute to the last guys were tuned in,” Cooper said.
“The important thing is obviously the result.”
The win was much needed, especially after last year’s mediocre season. The Red Bulls got off to a hot start then dipped in the summer months, having to scramble just to get in the playoffs. Now with a win and hosting expansion team Montreal this Saturday, things are looking up for the Red Bulls.
“Both attacking and defending looked solid,” Backe said. “A deserved win over 90 minutes, but I think everyone is aware now that this is how we need to dig in every game and step up for each other.”
Follow Red Bulls writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.