MLS Playoffs Observations: New York Red Bulls 2 - 0 FC Dallas

FRISCO, TX - OCTOBER 26: Joel Lindpere #20 of the New York Red Bulls dribbles the ball against Daniel Hernandez #2 of the FC Dallas during a wild card match at Pizza Hut Park on October 26, 2011 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The New York Red Bulls upset FC Dallas last night in Texas, giving them a home playoff game against the Los Angeles Galaxy on October 30. While the scoreline shows some of the quality play that the Red Bulls had during the game, but it doesn't speak to what's scary about a New York side with some confidence behind itself.

  • No Luke Rodgers? No Problem: For only the second time all year, New York won a game in which Rodgers did not start. Dane Richards played in an advanced forward role for the second straight week and it seemed to help former French international and Arsenal star Thierry Henry to move freely through the Dallas defense for most of the second half. Henry would later finish off Dallas with some amazing ball control and a bit of good luck in the final seconds of the game.
  • Mehdi Ballouchy: The Savior: The much maligned Moroccan playmaker finally turned out a good performance for the Red Bulls, and it came during the team's most important run of play in  the game. Ballouchy received the ball on the right side of the Dallas 18, then whipped a low cross toward the middle of the six with his left foot that found the onrushing Joel Lindpere. The Estonian scored the eventual game winning goal.
  • Brek Shea's Tired Legs: Plenty has been said on this subject already, but it's pretty obvious. 
  • Troubles That Jackson And Santos Couldn't Fix: Dallas suffered from a lack of a striker that could propel the team into a title contender, and the absence of a playmaker out of the center of the field that performs up to the level of a David Ferreira hurt the likes of Shea.
  • A Red Bulls With Confidence Is Scary For Everyone: As much as fans of the league enjoyed making fun of New York all year for their inability to meet preseason expectations, the talent level and ability of the Red Bulls is scary if properly managed and used. Head coach Hans Backe used all three of his possible substitutions for the first time in his Red Bulls career - or at least it sure seems like it was the first time ever. The Swede was ripped prior to the game for only bringing five out of a possible seven substitutes to the game, yet came out on top with his choices. A hot streak could continue against the Galaxy, and then MLS teams truly have something to worry about on the way to the 2011 MLS Cup final.
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