Red Bulls midfielder Wiki Carmona (19) celebrates with forward Cameron Harper (17) after scoring the winning goal against the New England Revolution. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
That was close and it could have been an embarrassing result for the Red Bulls on Saturday night.
Playing with a man advantage for the final half hour of the match, the Red Bulls conceded an equalizing goal to the New England Revolution in the 76th minute.
That would have been devastating since the game was played at Red Bull Arena.
But Wiki Carmona spared the hosts’ blushes, connecting for the game-winner in the 85th minute as the Red Bulls walked away with a 2-1 MLS victory.
The win boosted the Red Bulls (6-7-8, 26 points) to 10th place in the MLS Eastern Conference, just below the playoff line. Third-place New England (37 points) dropped to 10-4-7. The loss ended New England’s seven-game unbeaten streak, which was the longest active run without a loss entering tonight’s action.
Head coach Troy Lesesne realized how fortunate his team was.
“What I told them was, three points, a big three points tonight, No. 1,” he said. “Don’t let anything that I’m about to say take that away from it. But it wasn’t a complete performance tonight, and that’s what we were asking for in the pre match. And I think a lot of game, we have to say was very good from us.
“But when we go up a man, I think we could have gotten the second goal, No. 1. And then No. 2, we let them back in the game with silly fouls and set pieces.”
Frankie Amaya lifted the Red Bulls to a 1-0 lead in the 58th minute before Latif Blessing saw red two minutes later.
“I was just in the right spot,” Amaya said. “Dante [Vanezir] played in an amazing ball. I just gave it my all try to jump as high as I can and place it in a good spot and luckily I ended up scoring.”
Amaya said that he wore special cleats to honor his friend, Kevin,
“That was a really special moment for me,” he said. “He has a brain tumor and it was just special wearing them and seeing him after the game with the biggest smile on his face. Me and him sat down and we designed them together. We sat down and we talked about his journey and how he is as a person and gladly I can call him my friend. Me and him are really close.”
Despite playing a man down, Brandon Bye knotted things up in the 76th minute for the visitors.
Amaya, however, gave the Red Bulls and the crowd of 20,014 something to cheer about with a 25-yard blast into the upper left corner for the win.
“It’s such a unique feeling to do this, scoring my first goal,” Carmona said. “I hope to repeat it again.
“We really showed resilience. Coach always taught us that if something happens, a mistake, to get back up and keep going. They were a man down, and so with that man down, we took advantage.”