A Joel Lindpere second-half goal guided the New York Red Bulls to a win.SANTA CLARA, Calif. - In the MLS playoffs first leg, the Eastern Conference top-seeded New York Red Bulls went into a sold-out Buck Shaw Stadium, played the physical style game of San Jose, and topped the Western Conference sixth-seeded Earthquakes, 1-0, in front of 10,525 in attendance Saturday night.
Feeding off an energized crowd, the Earthquakes pressed the Red Bulls goal in the early stages of the game, creating the first threat on goal in the third minute. Ramiro Corrales headed a poor clearance by the Red Bulls to Chris Wondolowski, who one-touched a pass out to Bobby Convey on the left flank. Convey whipped a bending cross through the box that Geovanni struck at goal, but just wide.
New York responded to the Earthquake threat by heading right up the pitch. In the fifth minute, the Red Bulls took a short corner that Chris Albright took and sent a cross to Mehdi Ballouchy. Ballouchy headed the ball at goal, but Jon Busch made a diving stop to keep the tilt scoreless.
New York continued to press the Quakes goal after San Jose’s opening threat. In the 11th minute, Joel Lindpere corralled the ball inside the box and tried to tuck a shot inside the far post. Busch, again, rescued his defense by making another diving stop.
Wondolowski created the Earthquakes' next chance in the 20th minute when Red Bulls defender Roy Miller missed the ball in an attempt to clear the ball. Wondolowski ran onto the ball in the box and fired a shot that missed to the nearside of Bouna Coundoul’s goal.
After San Jose had a chance that failed in the 32nd minute, the Red Bulls quickly turned a Coundoul save into a chance at goal. Juan Pablo Angel had the ball in the center of the field about 40 yards from goal. New York’s captain fed Ballouchy the ball just outside the box, where he hit a shot for the far post that whistled past the post and out for a goal kick.
In the 42nd minute, Geovanni sent a ball across the box and to the goal mouth, testing Coundoul. New York’s keeper let it sail through the box where Earthquakes striker Ryan Johnson nearly tapped it in for the game’s first goal but Albright cleared it off the line before the Jamaican international could get to it.
New York’s next rush up the pitch ended with the half’s closest chance. Busch attempted to snag a cross but mistimed his jump and the ball squirted free. Lindpere jumped on the loose ball and fired a low, hard shot that Jason Hernandez kicked off the line, saving a goal for San Jose.
New York escaped a quick counter chance by San Jose in the 49th minute when a Wondolowski header off a Tim Ward cross went well wide. Three minutes later in the 52nd minute, Scott Sealy committed a foul and Rafael Marquez took the free kick from 30 yards out that Busch made a diving stop on for the first chance of the second half.
New York got on the board in the 55th minute when Lindpere was in the right place at the right time. Miller streaked up the left flank before sending a pass to Angel. The Colombian sent a cross into the box looking for Juan Agudelo, but the Earthquakes headed it away from the Red Bulls striker. The clearance, however, fell directly to Lindpere, who drilled a shot to the far posts’ side netting.
Agudelo nearly doubled the Red Bulls lead in the 58th minute, getting behind the Quakes defense and into the box before hitting a shot for the near post that Busch stymied. Agudelo got the rebound and sent it across but the San Jose defense cleared it away from danger.
Busch saved the Quakes again in the 60th minute, making a sliding kick save on Agudelo after he dispossessed Sealy inside the San Jose defensive third and worked his way into the box. New York spent much of the final half hour possessing the ball, and doing so successfully.
It wasn’t until the 82nd minute when San Jose got a quality chance: a free kick from 20 yards out. Arturo Alvarez looped it into the box. A New York defender got a head on it and Wondolowski was first to it, one-touching it to the far post for Eduardo, whose acrobatic try at goal went off the post. Wondolowski blasted the rebound wide.
Convey had the last chance for San Jose in stoppage time, taking a shot from the top of the box that Coundoul dove to save. It proved to be their last serious chance at the New York goal, as the Red Bulls took command of the first-round, home-and-home series.
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