This was the biggest task the New York Red Bulls had to face and while you know they once had one of the greatest strikers in the world in Thierry Henry, they now had to face one of the best African strikers in former Chelsea & Ivory Coast International Didier Drogba.
But at the same time they had to face a pair of former players that were involved in the Felipe trade during the offseason as they faced former midfielder Eric Alexander & Ambroise Oyongo who were also stopped in this match, but sadly for Oyongo he was shown a straight red card after handling the ball inside the area and on the goal line preventing Bradley Wright-Phillips to score.
In the 15th minute is was a strange series of plays that earned the Red Bulls a spot kick and sent the Impact down to ten men. After Sacha Kljestan stopped his run inside the area he passed the ball back to Bradley Wright-Phillips and as he shot it, the ball hits a defenders leg, Evan Bush gets a right paw on it and tries to shoulder the ball away from the net, but Oyongo was on the goal line and he tried to slap the ball away with his left hand and Ted Unkle had no choice but to point to the spot and show the Red Card.
Kljestan coolly converts the penalty straight down the middle and the Red Bulls take the lead on Sacha's 7th of the season. And then another penalty was given to the Red Bulls twelve minutes later as Donny Toia trips up Lloyd Sam in the Montreal area and that meant Kljestan was going to double the advantage. But Drogba played some mind games and stood on top of the ball and forced Kljestan to take it away from him. No booking on the smart gamesmanship call by Drogba and when the 2nd penalty was struck Bush made the save to his left.
But Lloyd Sam was able to double the advantage as he chips the Montreal defense and just converts it under the crossbar in the 39th minute. BWP once again with a free chance tried to beat Bush on the quick break and was stopped and then the ball was cleared by a defender, but Sam was in the right place at the right time to chip that ball and convert his 10th goal of the season which is a personal best in his MLS career.
This was the best defensive performance as a team against one of the best strikers in the world in Didier Drogba who found every advantage he could find to try and attack the Red Bulls Goal. Both Damien Perrinelle and Ronald Zubar had to make sure that their non-verbal communication would work as all three speak French very well.
Even when Drogba was onside or allowed to be on in an offside position Luis Robles was at the right place at the right time to make the big save and while Drogba did tally on the spot kick, out in the field of play the Red Bulls gave him nothing.
"I thought the job done on Drogba overall was really good." Said Jesse Marsch, "He's a classy player. I thought the team did a good job on Drogba and made it harder on him, which was a big task on the night." And now the club has taken one of the two games in hand on their schedule.
All they need is a win or a draw next game at Toronto to clinch the Eastern Conference and that CONCACAF Champions League spot, then it's all up for grabs on the Shield. Currently still at the top with a three point lead on the LA Galaxy, but other games that are being played can throw a wrench into the works. So let's wait and see what happens as the Red Bulls build on this win and face the 2nd leg of the Canadian doubleheader at BMO Field.