Goals from Gareth Bale and Gylfi Sigurdsson cancelled out Kenny Cooper’s early penalty for the MLS side in New York.
Recent signing Cahill made an immediate impact for his new side within minutes of the start, winning the home side a penalty that Cooper put away. But the Red Bulls, minus Thierry Henry, had keeper Bill Gaudette to thank for keeping it to just 2-1 as Spurs dominated Hans Bakke's team on the night.
All eyes were on Cahill and the new recruit made an encouraging start to his American adventure, bursting forward into the box only to be clumsily tripped by Spurs' summer signing Jan Vertonghen with just Heurelho Gomes to beat.
It was not a great start for the Dutch footballer of the year and the referee's decision was an easy one. Cooper sent Gomes the wrong way to put the hosts ahead.
The early setback sparked Spurs into a quick response and they laid siege to the Red Bulls game for the next quarter of an hour. New York had the reflexes of Gaudette to thank for keeping them ahead before the break, the second choice keeper reacting brilliantly to tip over Bale’s goalbound free-kick before turning round a fierce drive from Tom Huddlestone moments later.
Aside from his early impact, Cahill remained relatively quiet and Benoit Assou-Ekotto gave him a wake-up call with a strong tackle that he was lucky to escape without a card as Spurs finished the half strongly.
Spurs were nearly level within minutes of the restart. Bale’s cross found Aaron Lennnon and Gaudette again had to be at his athletic best to tip his goalbound shot over. But a dominant Spurs finally got the goal that had been coming from their most likely source, Bale rising to meet Sigurdsson’s pinpoint corner to head past Gaudette.
Four minutes later and Spurs were ahead and it was their other star on the night that capped off a marvellous performance with a world class goal, Icelander Sigurdsson turning Red Bull’s skipper Markus Holgersson inside out before unleashing a shot into the far corner of the net.
Michael Dawson hit the bar as Spurs pressed for a third and Andre Villas-Boas gave his youngsters a run out before the finish.
Tottenham begin their 2012-13 Premier League campaign away to Newcastle United on August 18.