Keeping an Open [Cup] Mind

Sylvana Budesheim - NY Red Bulls/mlsfemale
Official New York Red Bulls Reporter

Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Wednesday, June 28

Open Cup Round of 16: 0-0 draw; 5-3 win in PK shootout

Having been eliminated from the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup competition the past two years—both times by the Philadelphia Union—the New York Red Bulls were looking for vindication. Their form slumping of late, still smarting from the loss against NYCFC, it was up to the boys in red and white to make the third time the charm.

OH BEHAVE

Last year, when Philly was in the process of knocking the Red Bulls out of the Open Cup, Jesse Marsch… didn’t take it well.

As a result, he was suspended for the first game of this year’s competition (a 1-0 victory over NYCFC). This time around, Marsch was more even keeled during the match. However, his patience was wearing thin by Extra Time (well… wasn’t everyone’s?).

STILL NOT A RIVALRY

I said this in my last article about the Union. I don’t care if Philly fans want a rivalry. I don’t care if New York vs Philly is a thing in gridiron football. And baseball. And hockey. The Union is just an opponent that the fans enjoy seeing the boys defeat. That doesn’t make it a rivalry. Don’t ask me again.

SIX AT THE BACK?

You know how they say the best defense is a good offense? Well, Marsch decided to reverse that one. I’m going to bust out terms that I haven’t used for a long time: RBNY played 3 fullbacks and 3 halfbacks. Kemar Lawrence played in front of Damien Perrinelle, doing the kind of work up the channel that Michael Amir Murillo has been doing more recently. When pressed to describe the formation at the press conference following the match, Marsch laughed and replied, “We don’t need to call it anything.” Despite losing central defender Aurelien Collin to an apparent hamstring injury, the substitution of Connor Lade (23’) helped to bolster both the defense and the attack. As Marsch said, “It gets the best out of a lot of different guys.”

NOT GIVING UP MY SHOT

RBNY still have their work cut out for them on the attack. Bradley Wright Phillips was outpaced multiple times while trying to make a run to goal, and nearly every corner captain Sacha Kljestan made went to the head of a Union player instead of a Red Bull. The only saving grace is that the same was true on the other side of the field. Lawrence took advantage of his higher position to try a couple of shots, including a diving header that was an inch too short (26’). RBNY went for a total of 17 shots, the kind of attack that is encouraging going forward.

Let me take a moment to say: I have heard the lamentations of many a fan telling Kljestan to Shoot. The. Dang. Ball. He must’ve done this all season to lull the opposition into a false sense of security, because he was completely unmarked and was able to poke the ball right past McCarthy (42’), his first goal this season. While RBNY was unable to hold the lead (Roland Alberg, 86’), they at least held on through Extra Time to force a penalty shootout.

COOL UNDER PRESSURE

Goalkeeper Ryan Meara was primed to be the lead GK when Luis Robles took the position. He has since made appearances with RBNYII, part of the squad that won the USL trophy in 2016. One might think he would have a wandering eye to other clubs, but his value is clear in RBNY. He made a whopping 7 saves, and managed the hefty defensive line like a starting GK. When it came to the shootout, Marsch assured the team that Meara could handle the pressure: “We knew we had a good goalkeeper.” The cheers when all 5 RBNY penalty shots went in were nothing compared to the eruption of the crowd when Meara saved the shot from Picault.

Sylvana Budesheim - New York Red Bulls/mlsfemale

Now it’s a well-deserved weekend off before heading to Jordan Field at Harvard University to face the New England Revolution in the Open Cup Quarterfinals, but not before a return to MLS play… against the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium.

Featured image courtesy: @NewYorkRedBulls

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @whitezinwench

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

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