The New York Red Bulls lost in heartbreaking fashion Thursday night, falling to DC United 2-1 on aggregate in the second leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinal in a game where Kenny Cooper missed a penalty kick.
Cooper scored on a first penalty kick, but the goal was called back due to an encroachment call on Thierry Henry. His second attempt wasn't good enough to beat backup keeper Joe Willis, who had just entered when starter Bill Hamid was given a red card. After that, D.C.'s Nick DeLeon scored in the 88th minute to end New York's season.
Cooper understandably took the loss very hard. Franco Panizo of MLSSoccer.com reported the striker was staring at the floor, in tears, when media approached him, before teammate Tim Cahill swooped in and told the press that Cooper wouldn't be taking any questions:
"I’m gobsmacked. Football throws up difficult emotions and today there’s a lot of emotional players. It can only make some of us stronger.
"We have to just look back over the game. Obviously, we could’ve won the game, we know it. That’s probably why it hurts so much."
As for Henry, he claimed he never committed encroachment, and that the defensive player entered the penalty area first. To Frank Isola of Goal.com, the blame for the Red Bulls' playoff loss rests on Henry and Rafa Marquez, the team's other supposed star. Although Henry had a great season, Marquez earned a double-yellow and was ejected from the game, another disappointing event in a poor year for the Mexican defender:
"Blame Kenny Cooper? That’s easy. But before you do, just remember that Henry and Marquez once played for Barcelona, where winning multiple trophies was expected. In New York, the fans of the Red Bulls are still waiting for that first elusive championship. And now they should be wondering if Henry and Marquez are the guys to deliver it."