The New York Red Bulls may have vastly changed the complexion of their 2011 MLS season Tuesday night. Entering a game at Red Bull Arena against the league’s best team, the LA Galaxy, clinging to the final Eastern Conference playoff spot the Red Bulls emerged with a 2-0 victory. That not only solidified their playoff position, but moved New York within two points of the top spot in the East with two matches remaining.
The Red Bulls (9-7-16) have 43 points. DC United, which has four matches remaining, has 38 points. The Portland Timbers have 40 points, with three matches to play.
There are three teams ahead of New York in the Eastern Conference. Sporting Kansas City has 45 points, and the Columbus Crew and Philadelphia Union have 44. The Houston Dynamo are tied with the Red Bulls at 43.
New York’s final two matches are at Sporting Kansas City Oct. 15 and vs. Philadelphia on Oct. 20.
New York got goals Tuesday night from its two offensive stars — Luke Rodgers and Thierry Henry.
New York took a 1-0 leadin the 32nd minute when a corner kick was headed toward goal by Tim Ream. Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts produced a point- blank save, but Rodgers was there to knock home the rebound.
Rodgers had a golden opportunity to double the lead in the 38th minute, hitting the post from close range with only Ricketts to beat.
But Henry eventually provided the insurance goal in the 60th minute, taking a through-ball in the box and chipping a shot over Ricketts as the Galaxy keeper came out to try and make a play.
Like Rodgers in the first half, Henry nearly scored a second goal but instead struck the woodwork. In the 81st minute, the French striker found himself one- on-one with Ricketts, but his curling shot rattled off the far post.
Henry is now tied for the league-lead in scoring with 14 goals on the year, going level with former teammate Dwayne De Rosario of D.C. United.
Los Angeles remains atop the Western Conference with the highest point total in MLS, 64 points, but it failed to clinch the MLS Supporters’ Shield, leaving the door open for Seattle Sounders FC. Seattle trails L.A. by seven points and has a game in hand.
— Sports Network contributed to this report