New York midfielder Joel Lindpere.

Red Bulls Shake Quakes

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Joel Lindpere might be less heralded than his trio of Designated Player teammates, but Saturday night, there was no one more important to the New York Red Bulls.

Lindpere jumped on a loose header in the San Jose box and placed a precision shot low to the far post in the 56th minute, providing the only goal in New York’s 1-0 playoff-opening win against the Earthquakes.

The win put New York, the Eastern Conference regular-season front-runners, in a commanding position in the teams’ two-game aggregate Eastern Conference semifinal. San Jose now must win in Red Bull Arena, where the hosts went 10-3-2 this season, including a 2-0 victory against the Quakes on Aug. 28.

Lindpere was a danger all night for the Red Bulls, although his goal included a bit of luck. The Quakes initially looked as though they would be able to clear a cross from the left side by Juan Pablo Angel, but the ball homed in on Lindpere, who first-timed it past helpless Quakes ‘keeper Jon Busch.

Nonetheless, the Quakes were unable to recover against a New York squad that was a league-best 14-0-1 in the regular season when they scored the initial goal of a match.

The home side pressed forward and nearly found an equalizer in the 83rd minute. Golden Boot winner Chris Wondolowski put his volley hard into the ground, but Eduardo jumped on the loose ball – only to find the post with his rebound shot.

Bobby Convey struck a hard shot from the edge of the 18-yard box in the 93rd minute that Bouna Coundoul spilled, but the Quakes couldn’t get to the ball in time. San Jose are now 1-11-1 in MLS play this year when conceding first.

The Red Bulls had three golden opportunities to go up in the first half, but couldn’t cash in on any of them.

Jon Busch made an impressive reaction save on Mehdi Ballouchy’s free header from seven yards out in the fifth minute. Six minutes later, Busch dove to his right to parry a 14-yard attempt from Lindpere.

Lindpere had the best chance of the half just before intermission. Busch came off his line to try to clear a loose header in the Quakes’ penalty area, but was walled off by Angel and couldn’t reach the ball, which instead dropped to Lindpere. The Estonian international cracked a low drive, but Quakes center back Jason Hernandez was able to clear it off the line.

Geovanni, the Quakes’ first-ever Designated Player, started at right midfield after swapping spots with Wondolowski. The Brazilian nearly doubled his San Jose scoring total on a couple of different occasions early on, but he went wide of the far post in the second minute, and wide of the near post in the 20th.

Scoring Summary:

NY -- Joel Lindpere 1 (unassisted) 56

Misconduct Summary:

NY -- Mehdi Ballouchy (caution; Dissent) 47+

SJ -- Chris Wondolowski (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 65

NY -- Roy Miller (caution; Reckless Tackle) 71

NY -- Bouna Coundoul (caution; Delaying a Restart) 83

New York Red Bulls -- Bouna Coundoul, Chris Albright, Carlos Mendes, Tim Ream, Roy Miller, Dane Richards, Mehdi Ballouchy (Jeremy Hall 89), Rafael Marquez, Joel Lindpere (Carl Robinson 89), Juan Agudelo, Juan Pablo Angel.

Substitutes Not Used: Danleigh Borman, Conor Chinn, Mike Petke, Sinisa Ubiparipovic, Greg Sutton.

San Jose Earthquakes -- Jon Busch, Tim Ward, Jason Hernandez, Brandon McDonald, Ramiro Corrales, Geovanni (Khari Stephenson 82), Sam Cronin (Arturo Alvarez 69), Scott Sealy (Eduardo 62), Bobby Convey, Ryan Johnson, Chris Wondolowski.

Substitutes Not Used: Bobby Burling, Chris Leitch, Brad Ring, Brian Edwards.

Referee: Paul Ward
Referee's Assistants: Joe Fletcher; Corey Rockwell
4th Official: Baldomero Toledo

Attendance: 10,525