U.S. captain Christie Rampone.
AP Photo/Jae C. Jong
AP Photo/Jae C. Jong

The New York Red Bulls came up with its best performance of the year so far that resulted in a 3-0 win over MLS foe San Jose Earthquakes at Red Bull Arena last Saturday night.

Two early goals from Luke Rodgers set the pace for the home side, which dominated the game by being compact to keep possession for lengthy periods with an attractive short-passing game. The win marked the Red Bulls’ (2-1-2, 8 pts.) second win of the season and Thierry Henry’s first goal this year.

Rodgers, a former Notts County (England, League One) player making his first MLS start for the Red Bulls, put the hosts ahead two minutes into the game when Jamaican international Dane Richards played Rafael Marquez’s corner kick back across the goal from the far post for Rodgers to head home; in the 15th minute, Henry, in his best effort for the Red Bulls so far this season, stripped left fullback Ramiro Corrales of the ball as Corrales attempted to play out of the back and passed to an open Rodgers for an easy tap-in past Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch, who was excellent in goal throughout the rainy night.

Henry’s goal was great relief as the former French international and Arsenal (English Premier League) player who missed several easy opportunities earlier. Rodgers, who connected well with Henry during the night, found himself with the ball on the right side of the Earthquakes goal and much time to cross it, and cross it he did; Henry dove head first to head the ball into the net at the 87th minute mark to seal the victory. New York goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul got his first victory and shutout on the season.

The Red Bulls will play East Conference rival and resurgent D.C. United on Thursday, April 21 at RFK Stadium at 8:00 p.m. (TV: ESPN2). The Red Bulls return to Red Bull Arena on Saturday, April 30, versus Sporting Kansas City at 7:30 p.m.

In other MLS games last week, DC United easily could be credited with the game of the week after beating hosts Toronto FC, 3-0. Two goals by Chris Pontius and one from Charlie Davies carried D.C. United (2-2-1, 7 pts). For Davies, who is still in recovery mode after a near fatal car accident that resulted serious bodily harm to the player, it was his fifth goal in four games. Davis missed last summer’s World Cup and is on loan from French club Sochaux. Toronto (1-2-3, 6 pts,) was unbeaten in its last four games.

Philadelphia continues it good start to the season; coming off a 1-0 over the Red Bulls over a week ago, the Union tied the Seattle Sounders, 1-1; Vancouver and Chivas USA played to a goalless draw; Columbus topped Kansas City, 1-0; Los Angeles Galaxy beat Chicago Fire, 2-1; Portland toped FC Dallas, 3-2; Houston knocked off New England and earlier in the week on Thursday, Portland beat Chicago, 4-2.

U.S. Women

The U.S. women’s national team, in preparation for the World Cup in Germany this summer, will play Mexico on June 5 in an international friendly at Red Bull Arena; the game will be a final warm-up before the team leaves for Germany.

‘’There’s nothing better than having a World Cup send-off game at an amazing venue against a very good opponent in front of a great crowd,’’ U.S. captain Christie Rampone said. ‘’It will be an emotional game and a great test for us before we head over to Europe to begin our final preparations.’’

Former U.S. national player Kristine Lilly, the only player to play in all five World Cups and whose 352 appearances is an international record, will be honored before the game. The U. S. will leave after the game for training in Austria before starting Group C play on June 28 against North Korea in Dresden; the Americans will also play Colombia in Sinsheim on July 2, and complete its group matches versus Sweden on July 6.

Stoke in FA Cup

Stoke City of the English Premier League defeated Bolton Wanderers, 5-0, at Wembley Stadium on Saturday to reach the final for the first time in over a hundred years. Two goals by Jonathan Walters along with tallies from Mathew Etherington, Robert Huth and Trinidad and Tobago striker Kenwyne Jones paced Stoke City, which registered the biggest margin of defeat in an FA Cup semi-final in 72 years, will meet Manchester City in the final at London’s Wembley Stadium on Saturday, May 14. City beat Manchester United, 1-0, on a Yaya Toure goal in the other semi-final.

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