|The Red Bulls celebrate Brian White's goal. Photo by Jason Schott.|
The Red Bulls took first place in the Eastern Conference and Supporters' Shield race on Wednesday night with a 1-0 win over the Houston Dynamo, with Brian White's first MLS goal being the game-winner.
The Red Bulls improved to 17-6-4, with 55 points, leapfrogging Atlanta United, which has 54 points with a record of 16-4-6.
This was the Red Bulls' 17th MLS win of the season, and they are now just one shy of the franchise record set in 2015.
Since this was the Red Bulls' fourth game in 12 days, Head Coach Chris Armas rested six starters from their win over DC United on Sunday night, Kaku, Kemar Lawrence, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Daniel Royer, Aaron Long, and Marc Rzatkowski. Three came on as substitutions - Royer in the 66th minute, Rzatkowski in the 75th, and Long in the 82nd.
Some new faces were in the Red Bulls starting 11, including White in his first MLS match, and recently acquired Romanian midfielder Andreas Ivan and Venezuelan midfielder Cristian Casseres, Jr., received their first career MLS starts. This was also Casseres Jr.'s first career MLS appearance, as well.
After a quiet first half in which the Red Bulls had two shots on target and Houston one, the Red Bulls started to put pressure on in the second, with a good chance coming in the 50th minute. White tried to get a pass through the box trailing Alex Muyl coming down the left side, but it was deflected away before reaching its target.
In the 56th, Michael Murillo came down the right side, fired it into the box, where a defender deflected it, but Muyl swept in and corraled it before going out of play, and he fired it back to White, coming down the center of the box, and he buried it to give the Red Bulls a 1-0 lead.
The Red Bull Arena crowd went into a frenzy, as did the Red Bulls, including those running to prepare to enter the game, who surrounded him to the right of the net.
This was White's first career MLS match, and he became the second Red Bulls II player to be called up and score his first career MLS goal in his first career MLS start, joining Ben Mines this season.
Red Bulls goalkeeper and Captain Luis Robles tallied three saves to record his 10th clean sheet of the season and 59th of his career.
For the fourth time in his six full seasons with the Red Bulls, Robles has recorded at least 10 clean sheets.
This was the third time this season that Robles and the defense tallied back-to-back clean sheets.
The Red Bulls wrapped up the month of August unbeaten for just the third time in franchise history.
They finished the month at 4-0-2 with three clean sheets.
August began with a 2-1 win over LAFC at home on the 5th, followed by a three-game road trip, which included a 1-0 win on the road over the Chicago Fire on the 11th, a 2-2 draw in Vancouver on the 18th, a 1-1 tie at NYCFC on the 22nd, and then back at home, wins over DC United, 1-0, on the 26th, and three nights later, this 1-0 win over Houston.
Chris Armas improved his career mark as Red Bulls manager to 7-2-2 all-time, and he said of their player development, which was evident in this win, " For sure it makes me proud, but it makes our club proud. (Sporting Director) Denis Hamlett has to be happy. He's here? Yes. He has to be happy, because he puts a lot of effort into that cause, and he believes in young guys and he pushes. He pushes John Molniak (phon.), who should be feeling great, and then in the middle of the night somewhere, (former Head Coach) Jesse Marsch has to be proud of him, because this is the push. This is who we are. We think we're one of the leaders of this player development. We're at the forefront. We believe in young guys, we push, and it's about the philosophy, it's about the mentality, the leadership from young guys, and we're not afraid to give them chances. I think from the club and to some of the leadership, we're really, really happy with some of those performances, yeah."
Armas said of White getting the game-winning goal, "Yeah, look, he's got a knack. He just has a knack. Guys like him, guys like Fred Phillips, these guys know how to feel the movements, sniff the plays out around the goal. When you even talk about him, it's not the guy outside the box. He just knows how to show up at the right place, right time, and he works. He loves scoring. He's a proven goal scorer, and now it starts the tally sheet in the MLS. When you see these guys come through, you never ignore the PDL goals. We didn't. We didn't ignore it in college, with USL. There it is again, there it is again. He assured himself that he got in some good spots tonight. It's a great goal for him, and we're really proud of him."
The Red Bulls conclude a 5-game-in-15-day stretch on Saturday night at the Montreal Impact.
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