A touch of veteran guile canceled a moment of youthful inexperience, as John Wolyniec’s 88th minute equalizer salvaged a point for the 10-man Red Bulls Saturday night in New Jersey.
The veteran forward pulled down a hopeful ball into the box, turned his defender and squeaked a shot past the defense for his first regular season goal in almost two years. The goal also marked the first league goal conceded by the Dynamo since April 4, a streak spanning four games.
“I was a little far from the goal and it was the wrong angle,” said Wolyniec of his goal. “I just put it down and kept it as close as possible and just hit it.”
New York midfielder Jorge Rojas was sent off for a wayward elbow on Brian Mullan in the 35th minute, but the game remained scoreless until the 78th minute, when Houston’s Chris Wondolowski got on the end of cross from Corey Ashe after a blistering run down the left flank.
Dominic Kinnear had his squad playing compact for most of the game, even with a man advantage. But the introduction of Ashe 15 minutes from time changed the paradigm for the visitors, and rookie right back Jeremy Hall, on as a substitute for the injured Carlos Johnson, failed to recognize the danger as he was caught up field. Ashe streaked into the space behind, and the counterattack was on, giving the visitors the solitary goal they sought.
“We wanted to try and get more guys forward, and Corey obviously brings in a good spark,” said Dynamo manager Dominic Kinnear. “They (substitutes Ashe and Wondoloski) made an impact on the game which was nice to see.”
The goal did not stand though, and the Red Bulls nearly stole all three points in stoppage time, as Kandji, Angel and Wolyniec terrorized the Dynamo backline up to the final whistle.
“We competed very well for 90 minutes,” said New York Head Coach Juan Carlos Osorio. “We deserved a point.”
The game, for the most part, was mired in a physical midfield battle from the beginning, as the visitors kept their lines compact and made their intent known.
“They are always physical,” said Wolyniec. “That is one of the reasons they are successful every year.
The dangerous moments, when they did come, came from the flanks. Red Bulls right back Carlos Johnson got free in the 8th minute to send in a dangerous cross, while Brian Mullan sent a scorching ball across the face of goal in the 18th.
Johnson, in one of his many active moments down the right flank, collided with Stuart Holden in the 21st minute. He managed to limp off the field and came back on briefly before being replaced by Hall.
The physical nature of the game began to crescendo as the half wore on, with Ade Akinbiyi picking up a yellow card for a neededless hack at Red Bulls centerback Kevin Goldthwaite in the 27th minute. It boiled over 10 minutes from the break, as Rojas, being pestered and harried by Mullan, lashed out with an elbow and was given his marching orders.
“It was not my intention at all to make any aggression,” said Rojas after the game. “I’m not that kind of player.”
Nonetheless, it was New York’s fourth red card of the season, and will force Rojas to miss next Sunday’s clash with Chicago. His failure to leave the field in a timely fashion may well lead to a longer vacation, as he had to be restrained from Houston goalkeeper Pat Onstad on his way to the locker room.
Osorio refused to let his team back into a shell in the second half, despite being down a man. Sinisa Ubiparipovic and Macoumba Kandji pressed high up the field on the outside to try and occupy Davis and Mullan, while Houston offered little initiative to get anyone forward from the back.
When Kinnear finally made the switch to three in the back in the 75th minute, the payoff was immediate. However, Wolyniec’s equalizer squelched the Canadian manager’s adventurous streak, who quickly withdrew Davis for defender Craig Waibel.
Wolyniec’s goal, his first of the year, may present Osorio with some selection issues going forward.
“He’s in a difficult position because he competes directly with Juan (Pablo Angel),” said Osorio. “Hopefully he will keep scoring goals and force himself into the starting eleven.”
The draw keeps New York one point behind fifth place New England in the Eastern Conference. The Red Bulls will now travel down I-95 for a midweek Open Cup clash against DC before completing their May home stand against Chicago and Colorado.
RBNY Player ratings (1-10 with 10 being best)
Conway – 7 – Made some nice saves, including a nice reaction save on a Geoff Cameron header, and a tricky parry on a stinging drive from Stuart Holden. Looked shaky coming off his line once or twice. Left out to dry on the goal.
Goldthwate – 7 – His usual self. Took a beating but cut out cross after cross. Houston left its attack entirely to its forwards for large parts of the game, and he dealt with nearly everything quite well.
Petke – 7 – Another strong game from Petke, who showed his value against physical forwards like Kamara and Akinbiyi.
Pacheco – 5 – Had his hands full with Mullan, but was able to do just enough to keep his crosses from being accurate. Didn’t offer much going forward, but containing Mullan kept him busy. Removed for tactical reasons late.
Johnson – 6 – Was involved in every dangerous Red Bulls attack, but ended his night with a hospital trip to check the damage on this foot. Can’t seem to catch a break.
Stammler – 8 – Covered tons of ground and took Stuart Holden out of the game entirely. Forming a very nice pairing with Celades.
Celades – 7 – Becoming the calming presence New York needs. Showed he can be effective even against a physical team. Still not fit for 90 minutes.
Rojas – 4 – Let his team down with the Red Card. Will likely get an extra game for the elbow and another vacation day for his refusal to leave the field in a timely fashion.
Ubiparipovic – 7 – Becoming a very useful player for New York, showing an excellent motor and good instincts going forward. Shows good tactical sense, and serves in a nice right footed ball.
Kandji – 5 – Didn’t deal well with the physical Dynamo, and let himself be taken out of the game mentally at times. Sat and nursed a slightly bloody lip instead of joining a promising attack in the second half. Still, he shows flashes of incredible ability at times.
Angel – 5 – Looked slow and uninterested in dealing with the physical defense that surrounded his every touch. A few weeks rest might do him good at this point.
Hall – 5 – Showed his inexperience in not recognizing the threat of Ashe when he came on and was punished for it. Otherwise he played well, showing good strength and aerial ability at the position.
Richards – 5 – Offered little when he came on, and seems to be difficult to play with for the fullbacks behind him.
Wolyniec – 8 – Did exactly what was asked of him. Shows terrific strength and energy, and the goal was vintage Woly. Seems due for a run in the side.