June 2012 was, on paper, somewhat of a rough month for the New York Red Bulls. They were outscored 10-7 by opponents, and they won just one of five games during the month. That single victory happened to come during the team’s lone home game of June, though, and the month also brought with it a couple of potential goal of the year candidates. Perhaps the most shocking part about this particular list is that it is dominated by two names that, up until June, haven’t been familiar to score sheets.
Top New York Red Bulls goals for June 2012 #5: A first
Jan Gunnar Solli had never before found the back of the net in 42 regular season Major League Soccer games while with the Red Bulls. That changed on June 24 when New York were hosting DC United in a pivotal midseason contest featuring two rivals. The Red Bulls were up 2-1 when Joel Lindpere played a ball from the left wing into the penalty area, and Solli’s first attempt was stopped by goalkeeper Bill Hamid. Solli ran down the rebound before tapping home the third goal of the contest, a very important tally considering Chris Pontius scored DC’s second goal of the match eleven minutes later.
Top New York Red Bulls goals for June 2012 #4: Late equalizer
Visiting New York outplayed the Vancouver Whitecaps throughout much of the June 20 match, yet the Red Bulls found themselves down a goal four minutes from time. Following a short corner, the previously mentioned Lindpere played a cross into the box right as Heath Pearce got free of his marker. Pearce, gifted a free header, rose above the crowd of players and headed home a goal that leveled the match and earned New York a point. Goals such as this one and number two on the list are ones you look back at later on down the road, goals that turned losses into draws.
Top New York Red Bulls goals for June 2012 #3: Burning old team I
Brandon Barklage, like Jan Gunnar Solli, had never before scored in MLS play heading into the June 24 contest against DC. He changed that in a big way 20 minutes into that particular game, when he got around his man as a corner kick was swung in toward the near post. Barklage extended his right leg and delivered a kick straight out of NES game Double Dragon, sending the ball past goalkeeper Bill Hamid, who honestly couldn’t have seen such an attempt coming. Some may list this as New York’s goal of the month or even year, but Barklage actually had an even more impressive strike later on in that match.
Top New York Red Bulls goals for June 2012 #2: Solli again
I’m a big fan of Jan Gunnar Solli’s goal against Toronto FC, scored on June 30, for several reasons. First, as MSG analyst Shep Messing pointed out, the play began thanks to some brilliant distribution from goalkeeper Ryan Meara. Dane Richards sent a one-touch ball to Barklage, who has quietly been responsible for some quality passes of his own this season. Barklage delivered a ball into the box as Solli timed his run perfectly, and the unmarked Solli did well to deliver a spot-on tap-in that landed in the back of the net. Team goals such as this one may not make highlight reels, but they do offer reminders that the Red Bulls can produce quality in the attacking third without the help of either Thierry Henry or Kenny Cooper.
Top New York Red Bulls goals for June 2012 #1: Barklage volley
Barklage may never again score as beautiful a goal as his volley against DC United, and that’s not at all a dig or any sort of commentary regarding his future with the team, in MLS or in the sport, in general. Barklage, standing on the outer portion of the right side of the penalty area, waited for the ball to travel downward from a significant height before striking a powerful far-post volley that Hamid had zero chance of stopping. Such a hit may be easy to complete in FIFA 12, but it is very difficult to get right in real life.