Peguy Luyindula (pictured) scored in the New York Red Bulls win at the New England Revolution on June 8, 2014, in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo: Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images)
HARRISON, New Jersey -- It certainly wasn't your usual recipe for victory, but the New York Red Bulls pulled off what many soccer observers felt was impossible at Gillette Stadium last Sunday.
Despite missing five starters, they won in Foxborough, Massachusetts, for the first time in 12 years against a New England Revolution (7-2-5, 23 points) side that leads the MLS Eastern Conference.
Those absent included former French international and 1998 World Cup champion Thierry Henry (health issues with artificial turf) and current internationals who are at the World Cup -- Australia midfielder-forward Tim Cahill and Costa Rica defender Roy Miller.
The Red Bulls (4-6-4, 18) recorded a 2-0 win, breaking a 19-game winless streak in all competitions, dating back to June 29, 2002. Goalkeeper Luis Robles was superb, making 10 saves, some of them spectacular as Eric Alexander and Peguy Luyindula scored goals.
"This year I thought this was possibly going to be our most difficult game up here – not only were we without players, but they’re a damn good team and they move the ball well," New York head coach Mike Petke said. "We had a lot of concerns about winning this game. I don’t know why it’s so difficult to come up here and play. But they got it done tonight, so I am very proud of them."
Besides the aforementioned three players, central midfielder Dax McCarty sat out with a knee injury and center back Jamison Olave also had health concerns with the turf and did not play.
So, Petke, whose team will compete in the CONCACAF Champions League this summer, had to tinker with his starting lineup. He teamed Alexander, who usually has played on the flanks, and Ibrahim Sekagya, who is a center back, at central midfield. Replacing Sekagya in the middle of defense was 18-year-old Matt Miazga, who made his first MLS start.
Petke challenged his players prior to kickoff.
"I really wanted them to have a chip on their shoulder," he said. "A lot of talk was made about the grass that was put down on Friday here – beautiful sod and the amount of money they paid for it, just to rip it up the next day when we were coming. I don’t blame them at all. Honestly, I would do the same thing if they had and Henry and Olave that would miss it.
"So I thought about that, but what I challenged these guys, perhaps a little bit of gamesmanship on my part with them, but I said ‘This is what they think of you, you know, they’re really focused on two guys who won’t make it, and they don’t think much of you.’ By all means I’m not saying that that is the reason why we got the result, but I wanted them to have a chip on their shoulder about that."
Liga de Campeones