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Drilling down on: at New York 3, Columbus 1

Columbus Crew v New York Red Bulls

HARRISON, NJ - SEPTEMBER 15: Thierry Henry #14 of the New York Red Bulls scores a goal in the first half past Andy Gruenebaum #30 of the Columbus Crew at Red Bull Arena on September 15, 2012 in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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Man of the Match: Thierry Henry was lively right from the start on this one; he always looked to have a goal in him. Well, he had two as it turned out, which gives Henry 13 for the year. The first was off one of his smart runs, punctuated by a classy finish. But that second goal! The wily Frenchman had a look at a late corner kick, spotted Columbus’ backup goalkeeper out of position and curled in the rare highlight-maker goal directly off the restart. Those French do have a flair for the dramatic now, don’t they?

Packaged for take-away:

  • Rafa Marquez, seen very little around Red Bull Arena this year, got back into the starting lineup for this one. He went 60 highly effective minutes in the holding midfield role as McCarty slid out to the right. If this is the effort and technical ability (well, that part was never in question) the Red Bulls can get from their former Mexican international, the fans and media will stop complaining.
  • Marquez was seen jogging into position as Columbus hit for a 3rd-minute goal. Otherwise though …
  • Columbus attempted to play a high back line, but failing to put pressure on Marquez is a recipe for disaster with that defensive approach. Sure enough, Marquez’s ball over the top for Henry was pinpoint accurate and nothing short of spectacular.
  • Marquez even drew a yellow card on Julius James early in the second half, creating a dangerous free kick for his team at the same time.
  • Federico Higuain did not start for the visitors; he got in for the final 10 minutes, entering about six or seven minutes after New York took its late lead. That deserves further reporting, clearly. One can only assume the Argentine playmaker was carrying an injury or perhaps has been ill.
  • New York had Jan Gunnar Solli marking Chad Marshall on restarts? Looked like a problem, but it ultimately wasn’t costly.
  • Milovan Mirosevic replaced Higuain in the lineup. He’s usually more of a defensive figure but managed to have an early impact on attack for Columbus.
  • As Columbus dropped that line back just a little at about 30 minutes, making the spatial adjustments throughout the other lines accordingly, the visitors lost a foothold on the game and ceded too much possession. To that point, both teams were creating chances in a wide open contest.
  • James always looks like a different player when paired with Marshall.
  • Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum was responsible for three, perhaps four game-savers before conceding McCarty’s late header. But what else is new? The Crew backstopper has been doing that all year for Columbus.
  • Gruenebaum injured himself on McCarty’s goal, hitting his head just above the left eye on the goal post. That’s surely alarming to Crew fans.
  • Everyone knows that Tim Cahill has some other-worldly talent for scoring on headers despite highly average size. Lesser known, perhaps, he does a ton of great aerial work defending restarts.
  • In addition to his game-winning goal, McCarty made things happen for New York, cutting in from his starting position out wide right. But to get the most of that arrangement, they’ll need more out of right back Conor Lade. If they can get Lade to become more dangerous pushing up the right side, teams will really struggle to contain it.