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Cooper lifts Red Bulls to 1-1 draw with Chivas USA
HARRISON, N.J. (AP) Juan Pablo Angel spent four seasons with the New York Red Bulls, becoming the franchise's all-time leading goal scorer. He was a little worried how he would be received when he returned to Red Bull Arena with Chivas USA.
Little did Angel know he would see a 30-foot sketching of his face hanging in the upper deck and another banner featuring his Red Bulls jersey. He received a thunderous ovation when he entered the field, treated like a conquering hero returning home.
"The reception was great," said Angel, who scored in the 47th minute to help Chivas USA pull out a 1-1 draw with the Red Bulls on Wednesday night. "It was all I could ask for. It couldn't be better. I came back and I have so much respect for these people and this organization. Scoring a goal made it a great night."
The only thing missing from Angel's magical night was a win, as New York's Kenny Cooper scored his 11th goal of the season, tying for the MLS lead.
Eastern Conference-leading New York (8-3-2). extended its unbeaten streak to 5-0-1 and improved to 4-0-2 at home.
Angel, who holds New York's all-time goal-scoring record (58), was playing against his former team for the first time. He spent four seasons with the Red Bulls before being traded to Los Angeles before the 2011 season. He missed both games against New York last season due to an injury and was dealt from the Galaxy to Chivas USA last August.
After a scoreless first half, Angel scored on pass from Raushawn McKenzie with a scissors kick on a play that started with a corner kick. Angel took the ball in traffic and knocked it home past Red Bulls rookie goalkeeper Ryan Meara for the 1-0 lead.
"What an impact he's had on this franchise," Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser said. "For him to come back and score the goal for us tonight is only fitting. With the reception he received, it was a fitting day."
The Red Bulls tied it in the 56th minute, when Dane Richards found Cooper streaking on the left side and hit him in stride with a crossing pass that Cooper buried to tie San Jose's Chris Wondolowski for the MLS lead.
"Everyone knows that Kenny Cooper can score goals," said Richards, who earned an assist for the second straight game. "He's been on fire and he's a very athletic striker. Nothing he does surprises me anymore. I knew he could get that goal. I just had to get him the ball."
Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe praised Cooper, who has been much better than anyone could have anticipated.
"He deserves it," Backe said. "He works hard every game and every training session. He just needs good guys around him to give him passes, but he can score."
Angel almost got Chivas USA on the scoreboard in the 24th minute with a left-footed blast that Meara stopped with a diving save.
In the 28th minute, New York's Thierry Henry, returning to action after missing four games due to a strained hamstring, twisted awkwardly while attempting a shot. He went down for a second and caused a hush over Red Bull Arena with fears he had re-injured himself. But Henry slowly got up, pulled up the brace covering his right hamstring and continued on.
"He definitely made a difference," Meara said of Henry. "He's our captain and he's a huge presence in our locker room. On the field, he's the best player in the league."
Three minutes later, Henry had a great chance, but slid the shot wide left of Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.
In the 38th minute, Red Bulls defender Roy Miller had the best scoring opportunity, moving up the left flank unguarded. Miller eventually took a right-footed shot that just missed wide right of the goal.
After Angel scored, the Red Bulls continued to have the better chances. In the 51st minute, Richards made a nice run up the right side and made a precise crossing pass to Henry, whose header was slapped away by Kennedy.
Three minutes later, Henry had an open shot from 18 yards out, but his shot sailed over the crossbar.
"We should have won the game," Backe said. "We had our chances. ... But I'm pleased with the performance. I would say I was positively surprised by Henry's play. He's been out for four weeks and it's not easy to come in and compete right away. He was close to having a free run a few times."
New York had a great chance to take the lead in the 83rd minute, when Dax McCarty's header eluded Kennedy, but an alert Ante Jazic cleared the ball before it got to the goal line.
In the 87th minute, Cooper worked a great give-and-go with Joel Lindpere, but Kennedy made a sliding save to keep the match tied.
Updated May 23, 2012