Red Bull New York claimed its fifth straight league win for the first time in nine years on Saturday after defeating the Montreal Impact, 2-1, at the Olympic Stadium.
New York earned the victory the hard way, overturning Bernardo Corradi's first-half penalty kick and persevering through some poor officiating to claim 15 points through five straight games for the first time since April of 2003. Kenny Cooper netted his 10th goal of the season while Dane Richards provided the game-winner with his first of the campaign.
Referee Ismail Elfath played a starring role throughout his first Major League Soccer match, awarding dubious penalties to both sides and sending off Victor Palsson with a soft second yellow card.
Montreal took the lead when Markus Holgersson was whistled for hand ball in the box despite having his back to the play. Corradi converted the ensuing kick for his fourth goal of the season.
Elfath returned the favor for New York by giving the Red Bulls their own spot kick in the 37th minute. Tyson Wahl was penalized for a hand ball as he slid to block a cross from Dane Richards despite appearing to retract his outstretched hand back into his body. Cooper scored from the spot to level the score.
New York was reduced to 10 men in the 58th minute after Palsson was shown a suspect yellow card, his second of the game.
Montreal pushed in search of the go-ahead goal and came close in the 63rd minute when Felipe Martins struck the post with a shot from outside the box.
The Impact were left to rue that miss as the Red Bulls grabbed an improbable lead four minutes later. Roy Miller's low cross was pushed away by Donovan Ricketts, but the rebound fell to Richards who slammed the follow-up effort off the crossbar and into the back of the net.
Rookie goalkeeper Ryan Meara was in top-form once again, making several key saves down the stretch to ensure that the Red Bulls stay atop the Eastern Conference for another week.
New York (8-3-1) improves to 25 points on the season and will return to action Wednesday with an enticing fixture against Chivas USA. The match will mark Juan Agudelo's return to Red Bull Arena after being dealt to the Goats on Thursday.
Montreal (3-6-3) sees its four-game unbeaten run come to an end. The Impact will look to bounce back on May 26 when they head to Dick's Sporting Goods Park to face the Colorado Rapids.