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Drilling down on: New York Red Bulls 2, at Montreal 1

New York Red Bulls v Columbus Crew

COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 7: Dane Richards #19 of the New York Red Bulls maintains control of the ball as he leaps past the defense of Bernardo Anor #7 of the Columbus Crew in the first half on April 7, 2012 at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

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Man of the Match: Let’s be honest: Dane Richards just hasn’t been the best version of himself in 2012. He just hasn’t found enough ways to be a factor in matches. Well, he sure did on Saturday at Olympic Stadium, where he nailed the game-winner for his 10-man Red Bulls. Plus, Richards set up the visitors’ first-half penalty kick by working the right wing and turning a cross into Kenny Cooper’s goal.

Packaged for take-away:

  • Five wins in a row for the Red Bulls? Looks like this team has rallied around all the injuries and suspensions.
  • The Impact cannot get out of that building fast enough. (Have I said that before? Probably.)
  • Stade Saputo opens June 16
  • Debuting referee Ismail Elfath managed things well enough overall (the area in which so many MLS refs get failing grades) but got the early penalty kick wrong. Markus Holgersson went up in a scrum near the top of the 18 and had a clearing header bounce off the back of his arm. The ball was moving away from goal, so there’s no real goal scoring opportunity there. No matter; Bernardo Corradi’s spot shot made it 1-0.
  • The 36th minute brought another questionable handball PK call as Elfath whistled Tyson Wahl, who had his hand more or less in front of his face as he attempted to knock down a Richard’s cross. In this one, the ball was en route toward goal, at least. Besides, Elfath was correct in making a tit for tat PK call in this case.
  • Kenny Cooper turned that 12-yard shot into his 10th goal of the season.
  • For Montreal, Matteo Ferrari and Nelson Rivas make a pretty decent center back pairing. But those outside backs? That’s where things get a little splotchy for the Impact.
  • We won’t say Joel Lindpere’s timing in arrival from midfield spots into the penalty area is Frank Lampard-esque … but maybe it’s OK to call him a Frank Lampard starter kit in that way.
  • Heath Pearce, who just rolled into New York on Thursday, started at center back for the Red Bulls. Some of that was out of necessity because …
  • The Red Bulls injury list includes Thierry Henry, Wilman Conde, Teamu Tainio, Stephen Keel and Jan Gunnar Solli.
  • Victor Palsson came very close to getting his second booking in the 43rd minute. But wait …
  • And then he got it. In the 57th minute, Palsson fouled Miguel Montano hard from behind. Palsson has yet to show why the Red Bulls acquired him in the off-season. And in terms of finding ways to contribute and impress, now he’s definitely going the wrong way.
  • New York and FC Dallas are neck-and-neck in terms of creating bad situations for themselves.
  • Red Bulls rookie netminder Ryan Meara continues to do very little wrong.
  • While Rafa Marquez sits out again, this time with an Achilles injury, Dax McCarty and Lindpere continue to be energetic and more than capable in the Red Bulls’ central midfield arrangement. (Hans Backe played a 4-1-4-1 again, with McCarty screening the back line and Lindpere playing ahead and the left of him.)
  • Conor Lade, who made his debut starts at left back, mostly out of Red Bulls desperation, started wide left in midfield and made at least two chances from pure feistiness.
  • Red Bulls left back Roy Miller sure looked spry; perhaps he knows Pearce might be earmarked for his spot.