FRISCO (AP) – Joel Lindpere scored in the 61st minute and the New York Red Bulls withstood a late charge to hold off FC Dallas 2-0 on Wednesday night in an MLS Wild Card playoff match.
New York advanced to face Los Angeles in the semifinals. The Red Bulls host the first leg Sunday and the second leg is at the Galaxy on Nov. 3.
Frank Rost made eight saves for the shutout, despite the team playing a man down from the 79th minute on after Solli Jan Gunnar was ejected with a red card.
“I suppose you can compare this match with the match four weeks ago, it was the same,” said Rost, referring to New York’s 1-0 win here Sept. 17 that sparked the Red Bulls’ 4-2-1 stretch run that helped them land the final spot in the postseason. “We defended well and we scored with our two chances and that’s football.”
Thierry Henry scored in the 96th minute to finish it off just seconds before the final whistle.
“A solid game for us, definitely the key for us was our defense,” said New York coach Hans Backe, whose club has now won four consecutive road playoff matches. “Even when we were one down, they still showed unbelievable discipline in our defense. I’m excited, I’m very pleased with our defense.”
Dallas lost in the MLS Cup final last season.
“I really thought that we came out very lively and with really good team chemistry and to do everything we possibly could to get the result we wanted,” said Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman. “I thought we put some really good pressure on New York, but we just couldn’t get on the end of some of the services, or we couldn’t get the shot on frame. I thought we did everything we possibly could. No excuses, they came in and beat us on our field.”
Lindpere connected in the 61st minute to put New York up 1-0. Seconds after Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman made a spectacular diving save on Lindpere’s blast from 25 yards out, Mehdi Ballouchy fed a pass from the right side of the penalty area into the middle, where the charging Lindpere slid feet-first to chip it past Hartman.
“I ended up cutting back and playing it to my left,” said Ballouchy, who had just entered the game two minutes earlier. “Their back stepped up and opened up Joel and he was able to finish it. We were fortunate to get the first goal of the game.”
It was the second career MLS playoff goal for Lindpere, who had seven goals and seven assists during the regular season.
Dallas nearly tied it in the 76th minute when leading scorer Brek Shea chased down a loose ball on the left side of the area and popped it over the sliding Rost towards the open net, but defender Tim Ream managed to clear it out.
“He knows if I go out, he stays on the line,” Rost said of Ream. “It’s automatic, if you play week-for-week, then you have the rhythm. We’ve played in this formation for the fourth or fifth time, and you can see it.”
The complexion of the match then changed three minutes later when Gunnar was shown the red card for his slide tackle that took out Dallas captain Daniel Hernandez.
“I would say I can understand the referee after seeing the replay,” said Backe of the call. “I think it is a 50-50. In England it would be a yellow, definitely, but I can understand why he gave him the red card.”
Dallas continued to press for the equalizer, but Rost denied Jackson Goncalves’ 20-yard shot in the 85th minute and then Maicon Santos’s blast from 25 yards out curled just wide of the right goalpost.
The teams wound up playing 10-on-10 for the 6 minutes of stoppage time when Dallas defender Zach Loyd was injured and carried off on a stretcher, after Dallas had already used up all of its substitutions.
Henry, who finished third in the MLS with 14 regular season goals, sealed the win following a breakaway just before the final whistle.
After chasing down a New York clear, he dribbled into the penalty area, where Hartman stopped the initial shot, but the rebound rolled towards the right post and Henry got to it first, tapping it over the line.
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