Tim Cahill scored the game-tying goal against the New England Revolution on Saturday. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)
It was looking like a "Metro" kind of night for the New York Red Bulls. Until it wasn't. Until it was. Until it wasn't again.
With yet another clutch flick of his forehead, midfielder Tim Cahill fired New York into the playoffs with a looping headed goal that was the last touch of the ball in a wild 2-2 draw with the New England Revolution.
Cahill's tally capped a wild 15-minute closing stage in which just about everything imaginable happened -- not all of it good.
The Red Bulls, with a raucous sold-out crowd behind them, opened the scoring in the 14th minute with a nice finish from Fabian Espindola. Shout out to the terrible giveaway by rookie midfielder Scott Caldwell that allowed Espindola to do what he does best -- run very fast, directly at defenders (and also the impetus to do the thing he does second-best: needlessly talking back to officials and getting yellow cards).
Remember that Caldwell giveaway. You'll see something very similar later.
The Red Bulls dominated the rest of the first half, imposing their will in New England's half while the Revolution struggled to generate anything from midfield.
The second half was a different story. Jay Heaps' young Revs came out with a chip on their shoulder and took the game to New York to a degree they simply couldn't quite manage before.
But still, no goals. The teams traded chances, and inevitably either New York's Luis Robles or New England's Matt Reis would make an excellent save to deny them. I suppose that's great if you're a fan of stellar goalkeeping (*raises hand*), but I'm guessing referee Fotis Bazakos got tired of the deadlock. That's the only explanation I can see for why he would give the Revolution a penalty kick because Red Bulls defender Jamison Olave did this:
So it's 1-1, The Revs had the momentum, and the energy had, to a certain extent, been sucked out of Red Bull Arena. A collapse seemed imminent.
Instead, it was New England doing the collapsing. Or more specifically, it was Andy Dorman, who had only just come on 30 minutes before. The Welshman was brought to replace Caldwell's rough performance with something more positive. Instead he did this:
New England reduced to 10 men. Energy back in the building. Momentum with the Red Bulls against a young and undermanned New England side. Yeah, New York was definitely going to find a way back in this.
Nope. remember that Caldwell giveaway from earlier? Red Bulls midfielder David Carney did him one "better," handing the ball right to Revs forward Diego Fagundez, who finished with a maturity that belied his 17 years of age.
Momentum swing number three. To steal a valuable and surprising three points from New York at home, all New England had to do is sit back and lean on their defense, including No. 1 overall pick Andrew Farrell.
One problem: Farrell's face was bloody. while going for a lofted ball in the box, Thierry Henry gave the defender a shove, which caused Farrell's face to collide with the knee of Reis. After getting patched up on the sideline, Farrell played the next few minutes before being asked to leave the field to clean up his face once again. As he walked off, with the Revs down two men, it was Cahill time:
Bedlam. The New York Red Bulls are in the MLS playoffs. For the Revolution: Agitation.
A point is good, but not great for the Revolution, who currently sit three points out of a playoff spot thanks to the Philadelphia Union's own last-second victory. But if you're a neutral, hope they make it, because the prospect of seeing these teams play in the playoffs again is too good to resist.