By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench
Saturday, July 28th: 2-3 Loss
Last time the New York Red Bulls faced Columbus Crew, they traveled to Ohio and came home with a goal and a point. This time, hometown hero Mike Grella and the Crew made their way to a steamy Red Bull Arena for the rematch. This time, sharing wasn’t an option.
NEW NOMS ON THE BLOCK: Don’t get me wrong, I am well-fed by the Red Bull organization when I get to the game. But the latest buzz is for something I cannot readily get my hands on:
Being of South American descent, I have a mighty need for these empanadas. But alas, I have yet to try them. Don’t worry- when I get them, you’ll know.
WHO WHAT WHERE: For the third game in eight days, it makes sense to give some of the hardest-working players a rest. Bradley Wright-Phillips, who has become the fastest MLS player to reach 100 goals, began the night on the bench. Alejandro Romero Gamarra, who is currently leading the league in assists, was also seated at the opening whistle. Defender Kemar Lawrence, who has emerged as a decisive force in the defense, never saw the field against Columbus.
So who got the start instead? Aurelien Collin and Connor Lade in the back line, and Derrick Etienne, Jr. up top. I’ve spoken of “Haitian Messi” before. Nice guy. Amazing skills on the ball. But the finishing wasn’t there. Does he lack confidence? That would be disappointing since he does so well with RBII. How will he know what he’s capable of if he doesn’t get more of an opportunity?
NOT ACCORDING TO PLAN: Head coach Chris Armas came into the match prepared. At their last encounter, the Crew got frazzled with a 5-1-3-1 formation that RBNY ran in the second half, which earned them the draw. But while the Red Bulls made the tactical adjustment, so did Columbus. “[N]o matter what formation that we’re playing in, if we’re late to plays, a step late, if we’re not up for that part of it, they can just pick you apart,” Armas said of the decision following the match. And that is the overall theme of the first 45 minutes.
First came the foul that yielded a free kick. Jonathan Mensah scored the opening goal (7′). Then Patrick Mullins angled a shot past Luis Robles in the run of play (24′). But the nail in the coffin was the own-goal from Sean Davis (31′).
DO SOMETHING: BWP and Kaku came on at halftime. And the tide began to turn. Daniel Royer crossed the ball to BWP. Mensah tried to keep the ball away but committed an own-goal instead (50′). Then Royer made a goal of his own (69′).
With the team back in a 4-3-2-1 formation, the possession settled back in RBNY’s favor. Tim Parker nearly nailed a header. Aaron Long almost got a bicycle kick past Crew GK Zack Steffen. A later attempt from Royer went over the crossbar. And Alex Muyl, who made the equalizer in the previous meeting, nearly socked Steffen in the gut trying to do it again. But the Crew saved themselves and took all three points back to Columbus. (And I’ll say it again: SAVE THE CREW. That sentiment transcends competition.)
The MLS All-Star Game is next, with BWP, Aaron Long, and Michael Amir Murillo slated to take the field against Juventus(‘s reserve squad) in Atlanta. Sadly, I won’t be part of the festivities. But I hold out hope for next year.
Featured image: Bill Twomey Photography. Used with permission.
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