By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench
Wednesday, May 3: 2-0 Loss
Mid-week. On the road. Non-conference. Apparently, it was time to change things up a bit.
The New York Red Bulls (5-4-1, 15 points), coming off a successful home stand, hit the road with their first stop in Children’s Mercy Park to face Western Conference powerhouse Sporting Kansas City (5-1-3, 19 points).
Having started a run of three games in 8 days, RBNY coach Jesse Marsch made significant changes to the lineup. Sacha Kljestan gave his captain’s armband up to Luis Robles. Defender (and reality TV star) Sal Zizzo made an appearance at center back, since Aurelien Collin is week-to-week with a groin injury. Panamanian international Michael Murillo made his long-awaited debut for RBNY. Bradley Wright-Phillips took a well-deserved break, making way for Designated Player Gonzalo Veron and Frederik Gulbrandsen to lead the team in a 4-2-2-2 formation.
On the other hand, SKC was not interested in making significant changes. Captain Matt Besler, USMNT notables Graham Zusi & Benny Feilhaber, and the ever-popular SKC striker Dom Dwyer were ready for a fight in front of the KC Cauldron. It’s worth noting that a win for either side would have put them in 1st place in their conference. In hindsight, that doesn’t seem to have been the priority for New York.
The starting whistle was more like a starting pistol for both teams: pace and passing were intense in the first 20 minutes. Both sides were held scoreless in the first half, despite the solid chances for Gulbrandsen and Zizzo. Sporting KC goalkeeper Tim Melia made several saves to keep his side in the game.
Then the second half happened. Sporting KC decided they wanted it more and acted on it. In the opening minute, Feilhaber made a shot into the NY box that Zizzo couldn’t clear and Dwyer sunk the ball into the back of the net. Although the rest was over for usual starters Klejstan, Wright-Phillips, and Dani Royer, it proved to be too little too late: in the 68th minute, the combination of Feilhaber and Dwyer caught the defense sleeping and scored a second time. The game ended in a 2-0 loss for the Red Bulls, and fans were left questioning the lesson that was meant to be learned.
Was it a night for experimentation? If so, Marsch had the right idea putting in Murillo and Derrick Etienne, and starting Gulbrandsen, to see what they could do in unfamiliar territory. Was it worth losing? No one is happy to lose, especially when the chances were there for the Red Bulls. Honestly, this is the first write-up I’ve had to make with a RBNY loss. It’s not fun.
Next game for RBNY is this Saturday, away at Philadelphia Union, who must be very hungry for a win. How will the Red Bulls handle this very different situation?
Featured image courtesy: @NewYorkRedBulls
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