The New York Red Bulls came into the Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas, at a severe disadvantage after striker Luke Rodgers was benched due to an injured knee.
Turns out they didn’t even need him.
That’s because the Red Bulls were able to defeat FC Dallas in Wednesday night’s single-elimination wild card match by a score of 2-0 to advance to the next round in 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Joel Lindpere broke a 0-0 tie in the 61st minute to put New York up by one before Thierry Henry sealed his opponent’s fate just minutes before the final whistle.
But the victory didn't come without its share of close calls.
Jan Gunnar Solli put the Red Bulls at a distinct disadvantage following his sliding takedown on Daniel Hernandez. Referee Ricardo Salazar wasted little time saluting the red flag and telling the fullback to hit the showers.
In the end, it didn’t affect the outcome, but it will have Solli riding the pine for the Red Bulls' next game after garnering the Norwegian an automatic one-game suspension for the infraction.
How his absence will impact the Red Bulls, who move on to face the LA Galaxy on Sunday in Carson, Calif., remains to be seen.
One thing is for certain, this no longer looks like the same New York team that came limping into the playoffs after an underwhelming regular season.