Tim Cahill (l.) gets the Red Bulls going by opening the score against Salt Lake in the 11th minute.
It seemed like Saturday night was the perfect time for the Red Bulls to face the best team in MLS.
Real Salt Lake, which entered the day with the most points in the league, was without its three All-Stars – Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran and Nick Rimando, all of whom are with the U.S. national team at the Gold Cup – and was missing five players out with injuries and another because of a suspension.
The Red Bulls looked liked they were melting down after conceding two goals in a three-minute span had them down a goal late. But Fabian Espindola was fouled in the box and converted his second penalty kick of the game in the 89th minute and Dax McCarty scored a diving header a minute before the final whistle to secure a 4-3 win for New York before a crowd of 18,604 at Red Bull Arena.
Brandon Barklage sent in a cross from the right and McCarty laid out full extension to get his head on it, capping a frenzied finish.
Espindola had given the Red Bulls a 2-0 lead in the 23rd minute with a spot kick before his late game-tying goal, his sixth of the season.
Alvaro Saborio scored a hat trick for Real Salt Lake (11-7-4, 37 points,) netting a penalty just before halftime to cut the Red Bulls’ lead to 2-1. He then scored on a one-timer in the 80th minute and finished with finesse in the 82nd putting a shot into the upper right corner.
New York’s two superstars Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill connected on a free kick in the 11th minute to put the Red Bulls out in front. Henry sent in a bending ball from the right toward the left post, and an unmarked Cahill beat Salt Lake goalkeeper Jeff Attinella with a trademark header.
Fabian Espindola converted a penalty kick in the 23rd minute to open up a 2-0 lead for New York (10-7-5, 35 points) after Brandon Barklage was fouled just inside the penalty area.