Juan Pablo Angel has yet to be issued a work visa, Clint Mathis was suspended, and the New York Red Bulls were playing on the road against a team coming off a 3-1 victory. Nevertheless, the league's flagship of underachievement issued another statement of its capabilities.
Another solid showing netted another three points as NYRB (3-0-1) methodically downed FC Dallas, 1-0, by clamping down on Carlos Ruiz and Ramon Nunez, and exploiting its best scoring chance when right back Hunter Freeman -- a North Texas product -- controlled a cross and slammed his shot high into the net.
Rather than bunkering back for most of the 90 minutes, the Red Bulls took the initiative for much of the match and finished with a 13-9 edge in shots. On the occasions when keeper Ronald Wattereus was tested, he saved confidently, denying Kenny Cooper with his feet from point-blank range and turning over the crossbar Ruiz's only shot on goal.
Central defenders Jeff Parke and Pablo Mendes kept the Dallas strikers at bay and Claudio Reyna, Dema Kovalenko and Seth Stammler bossed the midfield. After Watterheus saved from Cooper during an FC Dallas flurry, New York struck back quickly for the winning goal.
Freeman tallied in the 79th minute, slipping into space behind left back Chris Gbandi to control a cross-field ball from Dave van den Bergh, whose first-time cross cleared the entire Dallas back line. When Gbandi, tucked well inside, elected to jump for the ball rather than turn and challenge, Freeman trapped and rifled it high into the net with a finish worthy of any striker.
Jozy Altidore unhinged the FC Dallas (2-2-1) defense with his dribbles and it was his touch to van den Bergh that triggered the scoring sequence. NYRB seldom gave the ball away and rarely allowed FC Dallas to attack at speed when it did lose possession.
Reyna played a quietly efficient two-way game, supporting the attack on occasion but always moving to find or cover space. He drilled a long-range screamer narrowly wide early in the second half and is still in search of his first MLS point. With the Red Bulls having won twice and tied once in his three appearances and sitting atop the Eastern Conference, Reyna's value is showing up in the stats that truly matter.
April 26 in Frisco, Texas
FC Dallas 0 New York 1.
Goal: Freeman (van den Bergh, Altidore) 79.
FC Dallas - Hislop, Moor, Goodson, Yi (Rhine, 71), Gbandi, Toja, Nunez, Pitchkolan (Oduro, 82), McCarty (Alvarez, 62), Cooper, Ruiz.
New York - Waterreus, Freeman, Mendes, Parke, Dunivant, Richards, Kovalenko, Reyna (Ubiparipovic, 90), Stammler, van den Bergh (Regan, 82), Altidore (Laventure, 86).
Yellow Cards: FC Dallas - Ruiz 95+; New York - Stammler 50, Altidore 55, Kovalenko 90.
Referee: Alex Prus.