Felipe gets Red Bulls first win of 2016, but New York loses three to injury

The Red Bulls got a much-needed victory but lost three players, including both center backs, to hamstring injuries.

A second-half brace from Felipe Martins turned a night headed for disaster into a memorable first win of 2016 for the New York Red Bulls.

The defensive midfielder scored on a pair of long range efforts, including a beautiful free-kick strike curler into the top corner for the winner, to help his side overturn 2-1 and 3-2 deficits for the eventual 4-3 victory over the Houston Dynamo. Wil Bruin netted a pair of his own for Houston. 

Prior to that, the Red Bulls were forced to burn all three of their substitutions on injury replacements as Gonzalo Veron and both center backs, Gideon Baah and Ronald Zubar, limped off with hamstring injuries.

Having lost their first two games of the season, the Red Bulls entered needing to turn around their fortunes at home, facing a visiting Dynamo side that demolished FC Dallas 5-0 last week.

New York got off to a fast start, with Kemar Lawrence teeing up Bradley Wright-Phillips for a tap in, but Dynamo keeper Joe Willis managed to scramble across to keep out a tame shot from the striker. Later in the first half, appeals for a handball in the box against Dynamo defender Raul Rodriguez went unheeded, incorrectly it appeared, to keep the game scoreless.

But designated player Veron, making his 2016 after missing the start of the year with a hamstring injury, weaved through the Dallas defense in the 22nd minute and helped set up Sacha Kljestan for the opener, the first goal of the season for the Red Bulls.

New York appeared to be in the ascendancy but things turned sour when Veron went down ten minutes later with another hamstring injury.

Then three minutes after that, Bruin capitalized on defensive miscues on a ball over the top, finishing with a nifty chip past Luis Robles to bring the Dynamo level.

In the 42nd minute, failure to deal with a Jalil Anibaba delivery into the area by the Red Bulls backline led to another chance for Bruin, which he did not miss, giving the Dynamo a 2-1 advantage.

The damage was compounded when center back Gideon Baah pulled up lame minutes later with another hamstring injury.

The second half started much like the first half ended, with Ronald Zubar being forced off with yet a third hamstring injury in the 53rd minute.

The Red Bulls managed to draw level thanks to a fortunate deflection off Mike Grella, in for Veron. However, poor defending from Dax McCarty and the center backs allowed Oscar Boniek Garcia to combine with Alex to give Houston the lead once more.

But that set the stage for Felipe, who equalized on a long-range effort in the 77th minute, and then bent a beautiful free kick around the wall and into the top corner in the 83rd, to give the Red Bulls the lead.

The Dynamo weren’t done as Ricardo Clark managed to get a great chance in the area in stoppage time, but was blocked by Sal Zizzo’s head to preserve the three points for New York, its first of 2016.