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White the Hero in Harrison: Red Bulls defeat Houston 1-0

Brian White celebrates after scoring his first MLS goal, the game winner in a 1-0 victory over Houston. Credit New York Red Bulls.

Harrison, NJ—August 29, 2018—The first MLS goal for rookie Brian White secured the three points for Chris Armas and company on Wednesday night, winning 1-0 over the Houston Dynamo.  The 22-year-old from Duke University was selected 16th overall in the 2018 draft and had scored 8 goals and 5 assists for NYRB2 before being signed to an MLS contract.  Luis Robles recorded his 10th shutout of the season and Alex Muyl got on the scoresheet with an assist in the victory which included several bench and youth players in the starting lineup.  Armas made 7 changes to the lineup, giving starts to veterans such as Sean Davis, Connor Lade and Muyl as well as bench players such as White, Andreas Ivan, Fidel Escobar and a debut for the highly touted Venezuelan Cristian Casseres Jr.  But the risks would pay off in the end for the Red Bulls gaffer.

Alex Muyl would get the first chance of the match five minutes in when he got the ball from White after a turnover.  His shot though would lead to an easy save by Chris Seitz.  The Dynamo would respond just a few minutes later when a cross found Alberth Elis in the penalty area but his shot was not clean and saved by Robles to his right.  In the 13th minute outside back Michael Murillo got involved in the attack sending a hard cross into the box after beating two defenders that had to be punched clear by Seitz.  The clearance fell to the young Venezuelan Casseres Jr. who sent the ball just high of the net.  The match then became a sloppy mess with neither team getting much more than a pass or two into the final third let alone a chance on goal.  The conditions on what was a steamy night in Harrison certainly took their toll on both sides as the first half dragged on.  In the 38th minute Houston nearly got the breakthrough during a series of chances.  First Eric Bird laid through a beautiful through ball to Renaldo Pena who was quickly shut down by Robles.  The rebound came to Gil at the top of the 18 but his shot flew harmlessly high of the net and the teams went into the locker room deadlocked at 0-0.

In the second half it would be the home side that would pick up the intensity.  In the 50th minute, Murillo sent in another cross skipping into the Houston defense, after a deflection, Brian White went for an acrobatic flick but just could not get enough power on it to score.  The road side would get another chance in the penalty area when Pena got the ball on the right-side minutes later, but his sharp angle shot was easily saved by the Red Bulls captain Robles.  The breakthrough finally came in the 55th minute with Murillo being the catalyst.  The Panamanian defender sent another sharp cross into the box that was cleared by Houston’s Leonardo.  It was then Alex Muyl and his trademark speed that made the difference, saving the ball just before it was about to trickle out of bounds.  His cross gave the youngster Brian White one of the simplest chances he’s had in his young career, tapping it home from 3 yards into an open net for his first MLS goal in front of several members of his family who were in attendance.  The assist for Muyl was his third of the season, and White became the 13th player to score for New York this season.

Houston nearly equalized In the 64th minute when a corner kick by Adam Lundqvist found substitute Romell Quioto on the far post, but his open header hit the woodwork instead of the net and was eventually cleared.  Chris Armas would then go to his bench bringing on Daniel Royer for Andreas Ivan who pulled up with an injury and then Rzatkowski for the goal provider Alex Muyl.  The final sub came with eight minutes to go as Casseres was replaced by Aaron Long.  For the final 25 or so minutes of the match, the game once again became very quiet, with very few chances for either side going forward.  After five minutes of stoppage time, the final whistle mercifully blew for the neutral with a 1-0 Red Bulls win, but despite the match not being pretty in was a critical three points for New York.

With the win on Wednesday, New York finds itself in first place in Major League Soccer with 55 points, one better than Atlanta United who has played one less match.  In fact, the victory capped off an impressive month of August in terms of results, earning 4 wins and 2 draws in six matches.  New York will now head north of the border to face the Montreal Impact who they defeated 3-0 back in March.  Chris Armas will also have the benefit of a fully rested Bradley Wright-Phillips, Kaku and Kemar Lawrence against an impact squad who find themselves just inside the playoff line but desperate for points.  After the match in Canada, the Red Bulls will get a much needed two week break before heading into the last 6 weeks of the season which include another trip to DC and home matches against Toronto FC and Atlanta United, which may decide the MLS regular season title race.

For New York and Chris Armas, the chance to finish on top is in their own hands, now the question is, do they have the firepower and depth to finish the job.

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