Just FC Dallas appeared to draw inspiration from the sparse crowd as they put forth a half-empty effort against the lowest seed New York Red Bulls. FC Dallas dominated possession in the first half, creating a few scoring opportunities, but the second half was all Red Bulls after a 61st minute strike by Joel Lindpere.
The match started with some disorganized back and forth between both teams, before FC Dallas pulled things together around the 8th minute. But they didn't see their first real chance until the 13th minute, when Marvin Chavez found a deflected cross from Zach Loyd but blasted it just to the right of the post.
Dallas continued to knock on the door for the next 10 minutes or so, while New York played very cautiously, seldom bringing attackers forward even on potential breakaways.The tide began to shift around the 30th minute, though, with New York beginning to control the ball better and create more on the attack. In the 32nd minute the NYRBs found their first real scoring opportunity, Thierry Henry getting some space just outside the 18', but his shot went just wide. Five minutes later Tim Ream collected a poor clearance from nearly the same spot and drove a hard shot with his left foot, but Dallas keeper Kevin Hartman was up to the challenge.
The half ended nil-nil, FC Dallas lamenting their missed opportunities and New York looking confident, having absorbed Dallas' pressure and reasserted themselves late.
The first excitement of the second half came about in the 53rd. Dallas midfielder Daniel Hernandez played a long ball down the left flank that died in front of Marvin Chavez, who poked it over Jan Gunnar Solli. Nobody but the keeper stood between him and the goal, and Jackson was making a run down the middle. But Chavez played a ball in that was neither a shot nor a cross, scooting it harmlessly past everyone.
Dallas kept up the pressure, and in the 57th minute Dallas defender Jair Benitez beat the Red Bulls defense down the left flank and played the ball into Jackson, who was promptly upended by Stephen Keel outside the penalty area. The resulting free kick from Daniel Hernandez went just wide to the left.
In the 61st minute, New York struck. After Hartman parried a strike from Joel Lindpere, Medhi Ballouchy, who had only just entered the game for Dax McCarty, got control of the ball on the right flank. Ballouchy held the ball for a moment, then nutmegged a cross through Benitez back to Lindpere, who sneaked in behind an unaware Ugo Ihemelu for the easy goal.
Dallas flailed about after the goal, sending in low percentage shots from distance and never penetrating the New York penalty area. Even after Solli was sent off for a two-legged takedown of Daniel Hernandez, Dallas still failed to create a serious threat.
Then with Dallas sending everyone forward in the seventh minute of stoppage time (a Zach Loyd injury had caused a long delay), Henry collected a clearance just past midfield and needed only to dribble past Kevin Hartman for New York's second goal. The half dozen or so Dallas fans who were still at the stadium by that point looked pretty gutted.
New York will play the first leg of the second round against the Supporters' Shield winning Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday at Red Bull Arena. As I write the ESPN camera crew are probably practicing their zooming skills for the upcoming faceoff between David Beckham and Thierry Henry, no doubt oblivious that a soccer game will be taking place somewhere in the background.