The move—which gives New York a potentially fearsome front five in former Arsenal legend Thierry Henry, rising U.S. international Juan Agudelo, De Rosario, Jamaican speed demon Dane Richards and last year’s team MVP Joel Lindpere—paid immediate dividends on Saturday night against Houston.
After watching the scoreless first half from the bench, De Rosario came on for Mehdi Ballouchy at the start of the second half. The difference was so stark, you actually felt bad for Ballouchy. De Ro was a dynamic, skillful presence, and on one of his first touches he slipped a ball behind Houston’s backline that Richards ran onto, cut back and buried into the far side netting.
The lead didn’t last long, though, as New York keeper Bouna Coundoul misjudged a flick-on by Dynamo striker Will Bruin and was chipped by Cam Weaver to make it 1-1 just minutes after Richards’ goal.
That’s the way it ended, but not for lack of chances by the Red Bulls. They outshot Houston 24-9, and were stymied by several brilliant saves from Dynamo netminder Tally Hall, who twice stopped Henry from close range, and made three big saves in stoppage time.
Complete highlights here:
(Notice how the announcer calls substitute Cam Weaver—a striker, mind you—“the unlikeliest of sources” for a Houston goal. Ouch.)
We will miss the promising midfielder Tchani, but the acquisition of De Rosario is a huge win-now move. As New York GM Erik Soler told MLS Soccer: “We want to win the Supporters’ Shield, [and] the MLS Cup. We want to do that this year. I will be disappointed if we don’t.”
Despite the result on Saturday, the move looked like it would pay dividends, especially as the players get used to one another. It might even wake up Henry, who has sleepwalked through much of the young 2011 season.
For the rest of the Week 3 MLS action, check out our column over at the league website.