HARRISON, N.J. – The huge showdown between the LA Galaxy and New York Red Bulls may not have been a pretty affair, but it sure was a dramatic one thanks to a late header from one of the game’s high-profile players.
WATCH: Cahill's game-winning goal for NY
Tim Cahill scored a 91st-minute goal to lift the Red Bulls to a 1-0 victory over the LA Galaxy at Red Bull Arena on Sunday afternoon, putting away one of the Red Bulls’ only chances in the gritty match to take advantage of Galaxy goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini’s decision not come off his line.
The result improves New York to 7-4-3 on the season, keeps them atop the Eastern Conference and extends their unbeaten run to six games. The loss is the third in LA’s last four games and drops them to 5-4-2.
With Landon Donovan pulling the strings in midfield, the Galaxy were the aggressors early on but were never able to penetrate the Red Bulls defense thanks to solid efforts from center backs Markus Holgersson and Jamison Olave. New York nearly went the whole first half without truly being tested, but Luis Robles had to come up big to deny a well-taken Robbie Keane free kick just before halftime.
The Red Bulls, who began winning back more possession around the half-hour mark, had their own chance to open the scoring in the opening 45 minutes. Fabian Espindola clipped a shot past Galaxy goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini in the 28th minute, but A.J. DeLaGarza raced to the ball and cleared it before it could cross the goal line.
New York started the second half better than they began the match but were still unable to create much in the final third. Omar Gonzalez was stout in dealing with Thierry Henry and the Galaxy center back also intervened on several long balls and crosses played in his direction.
The Galaxy came close to finding the breakthrough before Cahill played hero, but they lacked just a bit of precision in the final third. Donovan hit a shot over the crossbar in the 61st minute, Gyasi Zardes was stoned by Robles in the 77th and Keane saw his header skip inches from the far post a minute before the end of regulation.
That failure to finish came back to haunt LA, as Cahill earned New York the three points when he met a Juninho free kick in stoppage time and thundered it home with his head for his fourth goal of the season.
Both teams return to action on Sunday, May 26. New York host the Columbus Crew in an Eastern Conference affair while the Galaxy head back home to take on the Seattle Sounders.
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by email at Franco8813@gmail.com.