MLS Playoffs: New York Red Bulls at San Jose Earthquakes

© Matt Cohen 2010 - All Rights Reserved

Red Bulls supporters are a dedicated bunch, a fact I learned shooting
their matchup with Columbus in the 2008 MLS Cup.

The starting eleven for each team. I almost always skip this picture,
but it was the playoffs, and one of my clients really wanted them. See
if you can guess who won just by looking at these two pictures. It's really
all there.

© Matt Cohen 2010 - All Rights Reserved

© Matt Cohen 2010 - All Rights Reserved

I was looking forward to shooting this game as Rafa Marquez is one of my
all-time favorite players from his time with Barca and El Tri. He played very
well in the World Cup this year, and it was quite surprising to see him leave
Barca for Red Bulls. Here he is warming up, shot with off-camera flash and a
rear-shutter sync for a little motion blur.

© Matt Cohen 2010 - All Rights Reserved

He won a lot of balls in the midfield and made a few nice runs into the box,
here making the Quakes Bobby Convey work for it.

© Matt Cohen 2010 - All Rights Reserved

The Red Bulls did a great job of containing San Jose's Chris Wondolowski,
the Golden Boot winner and MLS MVP candidate. Wondolowski had 18 goals
in the regular season, a fact I can't fully fathom. My theory is similar to
the contention that bumblebees shouldn't physically be capable of flight.
Wondolowski isn't fast, big, strong, particularly coordinated or great on the
ball. Yet somehow he manages to find the back of the net with regularity.
Here he plays a little defense on the Red Bulls' Juan Pablo Angel.

© Matt Cohen 2010 - All Rights Reserved

Red Bulls forward Juan Agudelo and San Jose late-season signing midfielder
Geovanni fight for position on a lofted ball.
© Matt Cohen 2010 - All Rights Reserved

Scott Sealey hasn't been playing much lately, but got a surprise start and
didn't play badly. Here he complains to no avail after getting clipped from
behind.
© Matt Cohen 2010 - All Rights Reserved

Red Bulls defender Tim Ream and Earthquakes forward Ryan Johnson
fight for a loose ball.
© Matt Cohen 2010 - All Rights Reserved

Johnson made a couple of nice runs at the Red Bulls defense, but couldn't
hold it together enough for a goal.

© Matt Cohen 2010 - All Rights Reserved

© Matt Cohen 2010 - All Rights Reserved

Not exactly sure why Brandon McDonald gets as much playing time as he
does, but at least he always looks like he cares about the outcome.

© Matt Cohen 2010 - All Rights Reserved

Red Bulls defender midfielder Joel Lindpere worked pretty hard all game,
and was rewarded with a second-half goal that opened and closed the
scoring. Here Lindpere celebrates with teammates Roy Miller and Juan
Agudelo after his goal.

© Matt Cohen 2010 - All Rights Reserved

At some point during the second half, I looked toward the end of the field
where the San Jose supporters clubs (Ultras and Casbah) sit, and saw an
odd yellow line. My eyes were used to looking through the lens all night,
and I couldn't really see what was going on 100 yards away, but when I
turned my camera that way, I could see that it was a cordon of security guards
separating the Ultras from the rank-and-file fans.

© Matt Cohen 2010 - All Rights Reserved

And with good reason, based on this picture of a couple of Ultras from a
few games ago...

The second leg of the Earthquakes-Red Bulls series is in New York on
Thursday, and the Earthquakes need to win by two goals to advance to the
semifinals.