Well! Once again, the New York Red Bulls are facing their rival! It caught up with me way quicker than I thought it would. I honestly thought it happened in July.
Fellow original MLS squad DC United, currently in last place in the Eastern Conference, comes to Red Bull Arena to… um… wait…
(Kerissa clears her throat and whispers in my ear…)
Oh. Not our rival. My bad. Our “regional opponent.”
RBNY faces NYCFC, who are… currently in first place in the Eastern Conference (6-2-2). Going into the match, they had… twice the saves. A higher goal differential. More shots overall.
They’re a strong team. I’ve never denied it. I just don’t want them to do well against the Red Bulls. That’s true of every team. But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t mean a tiny bit more to face down a team that wants to be the Kings of Queens and all the other NY boroughs.
But the fans have a collective nickname for the Red Bulls: they’re “our large adult sons.” It’s a nod to their youth, their exuberance, and their physical presence. Sometimes they’re frustrated; sometimes they make mistakes. But they wear their hearts on their sleeves and they make their fans proud.
YOU CAN’T CHOOSE YOUR FAVORITE: Kaku opens the scoring in the 2nd minute– Bradley Wright-Phillips had the initial shot, but NYC goalkeeper Sean Johnson deflected it to Romero Gamarra to bring the fans to their feet. Then came the 4th minute– Valot chips his shot over the defender and Johnson, who was expecting it to stay on the ground.
And then, of course, Wright-Phillips makes it three (35′). And that was just the first half. Derrick Etienne Jr, subbed on for Danny Royer in the 65th minute, dodged Johnson and angled the ball in for the final goal in the 79th minute. They were all spectacular.
PLAY NICE: The first meeting of the NY Metropolitan area teams for the 2018 season was, of course, met with the usual online banter. NYC forward Jo Inge Berget pondered his first Derby leading up to the match. But the match itself was not much different.
Proximity allowed for a larger away support section than there was for, say, Portland. And of course, there was cheering and jeering that could be heard from my little corner of the press box. Sure, a ton of extra free t-shirts were being hurled, but there’s no such crime as assault with a deadly cotton. But no extra chippiness on the field. And that’s okay. Save it for later in the season.
IT’S PINK FOR THIS RED BULL: Defender Connor Lade shared with the crowd an important moment: the gender reveal for his baby, due in September. This mom couldn’t pass up a chance to see this event. He kicked a ball that was filled with colored chalk: a cloud of pink exploded to the cheers of the team and the fans. Now to supply Connor with a lifetime of Dad Jokes…
WHEN YOU’RE HERE, YOU’RE FAMILY: Prior to the reveal, the entire team walked right up to the South Ward to receive high fives and sign jerseys, having to hop over the signboards to get to them.
It’s amazing to watch the interaction that happens between an MLS team and their fans (I don’t purport it to be exclusive to RBNY). It’s what makes soccer special. As the weather continues to heat up, and the school year and spring youth soccer season come to a close, more families will come to visit “all their sons” at Red Bull Arena.
The New York Red Bulls, smarting from their home loss, traveled to sunny California to face a team (LA Galaxy) that is growing desperate for a win, especially one at home.
So: was I going to see a classic Hollywood fairytale ending? Or a gritty and harsh plot resolution?
NO PLACE LIKE HOME
The big news this week was the re-signings of Homegrown player Sean Davis and Austrian International Daniel Royer to new MLS contracts. Both players have proven themselves integral to the team’s style of play, and fans are pleased with the move. Not that it was weighing on their minds, but it must be nice to know that at least your near future is secure.
Davis executes many of Captain Luis Robles‘s directives, the main reason people have issues with goalkeepers having the armband. And although Royer was yet to score this season, it was definitely not for lack of trying.
YER A WIZARD
From a logical standpoint, it wasn’t a very big deal. There are a lot of players who haven’t scored a goal this season. But Danny Royer is a certified goalscorer, only hampered by injury last season. In league play, Royer had been thwarted time and again. Until now: all the frustration has finally yielded a goal for Royer (7’). (Same expletives came out of his mouth, but at least they were celebratory this time.)
And let’s not ignore that Bradley Wright-Phillips was credited with not one but two assists. For someone who is usually getting the pass, he’s giving pretty good as well.
VAR AND AWAY
Romain Alessandrini thought he had leveled the game in the 9th minute, but goals are automatically reviewed by the Video Assistant Referee. It was VAR that ruled Ola Kamara offside on the pass that became the assist.
I’ve never really given my opinion on VAR… because I don’t really have one. It’s too easy to hate it when it goes against your team and like it when it helps your team. So basically it’s a wash. RBNY coach Jesse Marsch was cautiously pleased with VAR as well:
I am used to not getting VAR so it was nice to get it. I don’t know enough about what happened so it is hard to make any comments on it.
It was all going according to plan. The second half saw midfielder Florian Valot double the Red Bulls’ lead (49′). And then the old curse of “the most dangerous lead in soccer” reared its ugly head. Back to back Galaxy goals (Ola Kamara 59′ and Giovani Dos Santos 66′) brought the game level.
But it was a handball called in the box that provided the Red Bulls with the opportunity to seal the deal. The job fell to Kaku, who nailed it right where Galaxy GK David Bingham was diving to get the third goal and bring home three points.
THE LAST ACTION HERO
What? Did you think I was going to ignore Zlatan Ibrahimovic altogether? That might result in a yellow card for me! Embed from Getty Images
Of course, he was awesome and intimidating. He had words with defenders Kemar Lawrence and Aurelien Collin, not to mention the assistant referee. He played the full 90 and was present throughout the game, credited with the assists for both Galaxy goals.
In fact, I give him a lot of credit for being caught offside 4 times– that’s a man who is going after the game. I expect no less from Zlatan. His impact in MLS will only grow, and all of MLS will benefit from it.
The New York Red Bulls travel home to prepare for the latest installment of the Hudson River Derby.
The expectation was simple: the team wins at home. Red Bull Arena is a fortress, built on clean sheets and comeback wins. The team looked oh-so-awesome in the Parley kits made from recycled ocean plastics with the blue numbers for their annual Autism Awareness Night. The weather was great, the crowd was hopping.
The New York Red Bulls (3-3-0) fell for the first time at their home pitch to the Chicago Fire (2-3-1). I had expected a view to a kill. All I got was a bittersweet symphony.
FACE TO FACE: Let me be clear: I love Dax McCarty; I do not miss Dax McCarty. He was out there doing what he did for the Red Bulls, *to* the Red Bulls. And that’s understandable- that’s his job. And I have to point out there were moments where homegrown players Sean Davis and Tyler Adams did that same job just as well, if not better.
TO FATAL SOUNDS OF BROKEN DREAMS: Damn, Daniel.
I’m serious. Daniel Royer finally… FINALLY!… finds the back of the net in the match, only to have it called back because Derrick Etienne was ruled offside. You don’t need to be an expert lip reader to know what Royer’s response was… especially when he had cause to say it more than once.
Meanwhile, the Fire took their chances, few and far between as they were. A ridiculous rebound off a defended corner (Aleksandar Katai, 30’) and a penalty kick brought on by a moment’s panic (Nemanja Nikolic, 69’).
THE FATAL KISS IS ALL WE NEED: Eleven shots in each half, but with a single goal to show for it (Wright-Phillips, 81’). Murillo attempted a shot on a free kick that sailed wide. Misses from Kaku, Florian Valot, and Tyler Adams. Fire goalkeeper Richard Sanchez was credited with 9 saves, the majority of which came right to him. Once again, the team dominated the clock, the ball, the field, and the goal frame, but the goals are what matter. The team couldn’t get enough of those.
(Okay, so I know I said I’d pick songs from this century… but if you can’t get behind Duran Duran or Bond theme songs, we can’t be friends.)
Since the Northeast has decided to skip spring entirely, I left Red Bull Arena Tuesday night in a hat and coat and returned Saturday in a dress and cardigan. The New York Red Bulls (3-2-0, 11 points), coming off a CONCACAF heartbreak, faced the Montreal Impact (2-4-0, 6 points) with a lot to prove.
Can they put their past behind them? Will Alejandro Romero Gamarra (aka Kaku) show that he has integrated into the team? Can Bradley Wright-Phillips add to his season tally while Daniel Royer still hopes to open his account?
PLAYERS GONNA PLAY: There was no shortage of exciting soccer to be found. Wright-Phillips found the net in the 5th minute with the help of Florian Valot. After the game, both players remarked how easy it is to play with the other, a testament to the system that brought them together.
Kaku’s goal in the 57th minute was gorgeous, and I don’t think the arena could have been any louder than in that moment. The final goal, from two defenders (Kemar Lawrence to Michael Amir Murillo, 76′) sealed the deal for RBNY.
HATERS GONNA HATE: I don’t usually talk about this, because I don’t think it’s my place. I don’t think it’s anyone’s place, really. But it’s being talked about, so maybe the time has come…
Look– we’re all busy people. We have places to go, people to see. Obligations to family and friends. A lot of things in life, you don’t have time, but you make time. Maybe more people could stand to make time for RBNY. A game is 2 hours, plus travel to and from (and I’m aware the travel is the sticking point for a lot of folks). There are a lot of people who go to every game. If every one of them brought someone with them to the next game, well… it would be nice.
You know, we’re trying to do everything we can. I think this team, it’s interesting, because we do, we perform at a high level, especially here at home. You know, and it’s a fun team to watch. –Coach Jesse Marsch, when asked about the attendance.
This is my sole argument: a Red Bull game (most any MLS game, for that matter) is a good time. Nothing beats being there. If no one has ever invited you to a game, let me be that one. My father, who loves soccer and has been largely unimpressed with MLS until now, is much more likely to come to a game since I took him once. I ask everyone who reads this to do the same. There’s a 3:30pm kickoff next Saturday– a perfect opportunity.
HEARTBREAKERS GONNA BREAK: Oh, Danny Royer. Five shots, three of them on frame. Off the woodwork. Just wide.
I’m sure no one is more frustrated than Royer himself. But he’ll get there. And once the floodgates open, there will be no stopping him.
CAN’T STOP, WON’T STOP: Today’s match was the first part of a doubleheader, where USL side Red Bulls II faced the Tampa Bay Rowdies. While I did not stay for the game, I would like to report that RBNYII won 5-0.
Also, today’s Red Bulls match was sponsored by Covanta, the official energy partner of RBNY. Covanta uses incinerated municipal waste to create steam for electricity, and has a facility in Newark, just across the river from Harrison. Garbage from Red Bull Arena will be transported to the Newark facility, and the entire arena will be powered by Covanta’s electricity. It’s gonna be alright.
(Do I love this song? Not really. But I couldn’t help it. Besides, I have to start using songs that are younger than the players…)
CONCACAF Champions League Semifinals
Leg 1: 1-0 loss
Leg 2: 0-0 draw (CD Guadalajara advance on aggregate)
Here we are. Again.
Tired. Cold. Hungover (perhaps in more ways than one).
Leaving for home with no prospect of a trophy in sight. The New York Red Bulls crash out of the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League in the semifinals, losing on aggregate to CD Guadalajara, aka Chivas.
And not because the team we love was thumped. Not because there were own goals and fouls in the box and those thousand natural shocks that soccer is heir to…
But because there was so much… nothing. Those horrible scary things I just mentioned… well, they’d be *something.* But this was Nothing. Capital N. Like those traumatizing-movie-readers of a certain age will remember.
Twenty total shots for the Red Bulls, nine of them on frame. Chivas managed ONE. Of the 13 players who were on the field in the 2nd leg, only 3 were not credited with a shot– including goalkeeper Luis Robles. There were six corners by midfielder Sean Davis, and several powerful throw-ins by defender Kemar Lawrence that made it into the box as if they had been kicked from the corner.
But the ball never found the back of the net. It sailed over, breezed past, and got scooped up or kicked away.
Did Chivas do so much more? Perhaps not. But what they did was enough. They were physical. They ate the clock. They intercepted passes and won challenges and cleared balls going towards the net. And now they will face Toronto FC for the final. And while their current form in Liga MX has been less than stellar, they just might give TFC a real fight. Or they might roll over.
As a fan, I certainly have the urge to throw some stuff and grouse and be all–
And then…like the team must… I move on.
The only thing I can do is go back and continue to work, continue to give it my best, and know that there’s a group of great guys, great character guys, that are going to do the same. –Captain Luis Robles
There are brilliant things happening at Red Bull Arena. There is an entire season to fight for, as well as the Open Cup. And I am ready to be there for it.
I’m sick of blaming myself when the New York Red Bulls lose on the road. Over the years, I’ve done everything I can to make sure they win. I put on the lucky kind of underwear; I wear the team’s blue or gray shirt because the red shirt is for home games only, and I always turn the match on in time to watch from the beginning.
I show up for away matches. It would be nice for the Red Bulls to do the same.
Am I being too hard on them? Maybe. It’s not like Saturday’s match at Orlando City was the worst performance they’ve ever given in an away match. It is, however, another entry in the saga known as The New York Red Bulls and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Away Game Record.
JESSE CAME TO FIGHT
Despite everyone else being preoccupied with the upcoming match in Guadalajara against Chivas, you could see how Red Bulls manager Jesse Marsch wanted to win in Orlando. Deciding to rest many regular starters — including Bradley Wright-Phillips, Tyler Adams, Daniel Royer, and Aaron Long — he made bold choices for his 4-2-3-1 lineup.
As this was only RBNY’s fourth regular season match, the lineup seemed a promising mix-up of the March 10th, Portland Timbers match. Carlos Rivas was sent to midfield with Alejandro Romero Gammara (a.k.a. Kaku), Florian Valot, while Derrick Etienne, Jr. was made the lone striker. Backing them up in the defensive midfield were Vincent Bezecourt and Marc Rzatkowski. For the back four, we saw familiar faces Connor Lade and Aurelien Collin on the left and center, respectively, and Tommy Redding and Kyle Duncan mirroring them on the right. Then, as always, team captain Luis Robles was in goal.
Now, this is the part where most writers would say, “The problem with untested lineups, though, is that they’re untested.” Well, my AP English Comp teacher taught us to never use clichés. And I also don’t think that this was the case.
Supporters of other MLS clubs like to rag on the Red Bulls for being owned by an energy drink. What many fail to realize is how the club’s corporate overloads have helped make Red Bull soccer the deepest well in town. For instance, Toronto FC, also in the CONCACAF semi-finals, plays Tuesday night after playing this past Friday. TFC has a second team — a good second team — but they still had to play their stars, Michael Bradly, Jozy Altidore, and Sebastian Giovinco. The Red Bulls had the luxury of having Bradley Wright-Phillips, Daniel Royer, and Tyler Adams on the bench. And Alex Muyl and Sean Davis didn’t even dress for the match.
The RBNY goals made in the second half can be credited to the players being well trained in Marsch’s system. Goal number one was a beautiful chipped cross from Kaku to Valot, who headed it in with the grace of a ballet dancer. It’s the type of goal we’ve seen with other Red Bull players — set up the goal somewhere around the 18-yard box, pass it to a player somewhere within the 6-yard, get the ball into the goal.
The only difference here was how great that cross from Kaku looked. (Seriously. Go back and watch it again and again and then again in slow-motion. Not only does he make the cross with his left foot, he’s also not looking! I’m flipping out over here!!! I mean, he didn’t even know who he was passing it to!!!!!!!)
RBNY’s second goal came in the 24th minute when Valot passed the ball to Etienne, who deflected it off Orlando keeper, Bendik, to get his first MLS goal. Even this goal was an echo of last week’s Bradley Wright-Phillips goal when Etienne outpaced the defender marking him to run with the ball and glide it into the net.
Too bad these goals and the one made in the second half by Aaron Long were all answered by Orlando.
IT’S ABOUT THE DEFENDING, STUPID.
You don’t get a 4-3 scoreline without defending being an issue for both sides. Each team had weak backlines who left key opposing players unmarked. The defending was so bad that the score could have been much higher.
The first RBNY came about because no one was marking Kaku (a mistake I’m sure few teams will duplicate in the future). A second goal seemed possible in the 11th minute if Bendik hadn’t come out to the middle of the 18-yard box to kick out the ball (and you can’t blame him for being literally hopping mad since it was him versus three undefended Red Bull players.)
Then a third RBNY goal was possible in the 31st minute; it only was disallowed because Rivas was so obviously offside that the sideline ref’s flag was up before Rivas kicked it into the goal (but, again, why was Rivas allowed to be there?)
As for the Orlando goals… Ugh. I guess I should talk about them, too. No matter how hard they are to re-watch.
Okay, the first Orlando goal is freaking infuriating I can’t even believe it. It makes me want to throw a chair Bobby Knight-style, the defending is so bad. Orlando brings the ball up to the RBNY box while hewing to the right side of the field. Redding and Duncan are keeping pace, eventually getting between the ball handler and the goal.
They’re giving too much space, though, because the ball is passed between them (!!!) by Sascha Kljestan to Justin Meram. Collin and Lade are running to get between Meram and Robles, who’s expecting Meram to shoot on goal when the cross is made to Will Johnson, who scores the goal because the goal is so wide open it might as well be a parking spot for a Humvee.
I’m going to skip the second Orlando goal. I’ll talk about it later.
Let’s talk, instead, about the third Orlando goal in the 48th minute. Kemar Lawrence (who was subbed in at halftime for Connor Lade) was watching the Orlando player throwing in the ball instead of Dom Dwyer, even though Dwyer was closest to Lawrence and also the closest player to the Red Bull goal. Now, maybe Lawrence expected the offside flag to come up when Dwyer broke off to get the ball.
I thought he was offside. But Lawrence, who is a professional soccer player, knows more about the sport than me, an aspiring Martha Stewart-esque craft maven. So, he should know that there is no offsides on throw-ins(!). The most infuriating thing is that he didn’t even try to catch up to him. That was left to Redding who — shocker — did not catch up in time to kick the ball out. Dwyer skidded it across the grass, just outside Robles’s reach, and into the net.
As for the fourth Orlando goal, well, it really looked to me like one of those right place, right time kind of goals. The RBNY defenders were all marking the people they were supposed to mark. Sometimes midfielders just score from outside the box and there’s no way to stop it. It’s worth noting, however, that the goal had a sharp assist from Kljestan. I’m telling you, go back and watch it just for his part. It really makes you sad that Marsch decided to send him to Carousel.
GRUMBLE GRUMBLE REF GRUMBLE GRUMBLE
For some reason RBNY and Orlando City have beef. I don’t know why. They’re not a team who always used to defeat us and is infested with raccoons. They’re not a team with supporters from a city notorious for having the worst fans ever. They’re also not a team who has to play on a crumby turf field that gets mangled for the second part of the season because they share it with a ‘cheating’ NFL team. And they’re not even a team who has to play in a baseball stadium because their oil-tycoon owner can’t find a place to build a soccer stadium.
When teams have beef, though, the game can get chippy. It takes a good ref to keep things in line. That’s not what happened here. There was a lot of uncalled fouls, players were getting injured, and a goal was allowed that shouldn’t have been a goal.
The goal — which should have been disallowed! — came in the 26th minute. Dom Dwyer scored a header off a corner kick… by pushing Robles into the goal.
And Jair Marrufo didn’t even go to VAR!!!!!
I can’t even. I mean, the Red Bulls messed up big time on a couple of the Orlando goals, but this was on the ref. It’s a good thing this is a family blog or otherwise, I would be typing a long, long sentence full of swear words. This is the kind of goal that makes me really dislike the game sometimes.
WHEN YOU BELIEVE IN THINGS YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND
A friend once told me superstitions are stupid if they work. What does it say about me, then, that I approach each away game hoping something I do will help RBNY win? Each game is won or lost by the team on the field. It’s not a special shirt or a ritual which will help the club win on the road. The only thing the Red Bulls need is a stronger backline and no amount of magical thinking is going to give them that.
So I hobbled my way back to Red Bull Arena to watch the New York Red Bulls face sophomore club Minnesota United. The concern for the team coming off a loss is that the slide would continue. This combined with the absence of several starters can compound locker room trepidation and set a vicious cycle in motion. But thankfully, that was not the case. And the team earned pizza and beer for their efforts (well… at least the ones who are old enough to drink).
FOR CLUB AND COUNTRY: Kemar Lawrence (Jamaica), Fidel Escobar and Michael Amir Murillo (Panama), and Tyler Adams (USA) are away on International duty. They were missed, of course, but it allowed for appearances for Kyle Duncan, Florian Valot, and Alex Muyl in the Starting XI.
SHOW RACISM THE RED CARD: In the 11th minute, the members of the South Ward did something quite out of the ordinary– they stopped singing for 1 minute, holding up red cards as a public display against racism. It’s important for supporter groups to make this effort to create a culture that is welcoming and supportive for all.
WICKED GAME: Well… Hello, Alex Muyl. Look at you, with a goal (15′) and an assist (78′) on the night. Your vision, your determination on the ball. After all this time when I was being critical (and I wasn’t alone), you have yourself a game. It’s what everyone wants to talk about. Hopefully, you’re listening.
“So he’s an important guy here, and he has to remain patient at times because we’ve used different guys at different times and we’ll use him at different moments but he’s very important around here and really happy for him.” –Coach Jesse Marsch
And a Brace for BWP: It’s easy to look at Bradley Wright-Phillips‘ record and grow complacent. Two goals (42′, 78’) might be just another day at the office for him:
“He should be underrated. He should be the most underrated player in league history. That should be his moniker because he proves every night how good he is.” –Jesse Marsch
But don’t tell him that:
“It definitely comes down to teammates, the team you’re in and the system you play. But I’ve worked hard. I want to score goals and I want to be important for my team. When I came here I tried to do that and now it seems like it’s paying off like I said[…] Right now I’m enjoying my football and it’s good to be a part of Red Bull.” — Bradley Wright-Phillips
Next week, RBNY heads to Florida to battle friend and former teammate Sacha Kljestan and Orlando City SC. Could be quite a clash, and that’s just the uniform colors!
But sometimes it’s gonna happen. It’s not fun, but perspective is necessary at times like this.
The New York Red Bulls traveled to Rio Tinto Stadium for a cross-conference matchup with Real Salt Lake, coached by former RBNY player and coach Mike Petke. Coming off a huge loss to LAFC, RSL was hungry for a home win, especially against a team that is riding high after decisive wins in two competitions.
Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Utah= snow. The official ball was Day-Glo orange just in case of accumulation of the white stuff during the game. While there was precipitation in the 2nd half, it was mostly rain which drastically affected RBNY’s passing game. The Red Bulls were able to maintain over 60% of the possession during the game, but the passes got shorter and interceptions increased over the course of 90 minutes.
Uphill Climb: Carlos Rivas‘ foul just inside the box resulted in a penalty kick that became a goal for Albert Rusnák (4′). This means the Red Bulls were chasing the tie for 86+ minutes. And while they possessed the ball, passed well, and had several breakaways, nothing came of it. Credit to the team that frustration only set in at the very end, most notably from midfielder Tyler Adams.
It was all Yellow: While none of them gave RBNY a chance to level the score with a penalty kick of their own, there were 4 yellow cards given to RSL players. And then there was the **possible** handball by an RSL defender in the box. Maybe it would have been called out with the same VAR that pointed our Rivas’ error, but it was not implemented.
But we mustn’t dwell.
So, the Red Bulls did well.. in nearly every way. Except for the one that matters as the season goes on. Is it as bad as a rivalry loss? A multi-goal thumping? No. But it sure don’t feel good.
Well, onward and upward. A Minnesota United team that is enjoying their ride this season. A powerhouse known as Chivas Guadalajara. Time to get back on it.
Seeing as I’m willing to watch pretty much any MLS match, and I got my fill of Week 1 games, one might think I would meet the home opener for the New York Red Bulls as they faced the Portland Timbers with decorum and aplomb.
One would be wrong.
I raced to the game and to my seat because I was ready for the new season. I had already seen the team advance to the Quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League in a rather decisive fashion at Red Bull Arena. How was the team going to go from that to MLS action and back again so quickly? The answer had been there all along, hiding in plain sight.
BABY YOU’RE A FIREWORK: Starting the season with a real bang, the fireworks and flashpots were out and firing as the starting lineup took the field. The players were all in red, the color kit that was a long time coming.
In his MLS debut, midfielder Alejandro Romero Gamarra could be spied just taking it all in. Indeed, several of the members of the starting lineup were making their MLS/RBNY/First Team debut. So okay– fans aren’t going to see Bradley-Wright Phillips or Aaron Long much, if at all.
Who are these guys in their places? Didn’t the club just sign Kyle Duncan, and they’re playing him already? Aren’t they facing the Timbers, the team that has 2017’s MVP, Diego Valeri? Is this even going to work?
GO ‘HEAD, HAITIAN MESSI: Well… when Derrick Etienne Jr. pulls off something like this, how can you not call him that?
He was a force to be reckoned with the entire first half, although it didn’t quite yield the desired result. Many chances and shots, but no goals. No reason to worry, though. Now is the time to hammer out the perfect pairs up top, and his match might be Danny Royer. It remains to be seen.
WELL, HE WAS JUST SEVENTEEN: No. Really. Starting midfielder Ben Mines, just seventeen years old and wearing #17 on his back, made his MLS debut and opened his goal-scoring account for the season… at 17 minutes, 17 seconds. He played for the full 90 minutes, getting knocked around by the opposition and earning himself a yellow card in the 72′ for time wasting. I daresay he ended up having the full MLS experience in one night. And he took home the ball he scored with to give to his mom. How could I cheer for another?
BUT THAT’S NOT ALL: Once Wright-Phillips was subbed on for Etienne and Tyler Adams for Romero Gamarra, there was a noticeable shift forward in the game. Wright-Phillips was able to convert a corner from defender Connor Lade with a header into the net in the 77th minute. And after several frustrating attempts in a 5-minute span, 23-year-old forward Carlos Rivas scores not one, but TWO goals (80′, assisted by Vincent Bezecourt & 90’+, assisted by Lade).
This month has roared in like a lion for the team, between the start of league play and the work that has to go into the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League. But it sure seems like the team is ready to take it all on.
**PERSONAL NEWS** In case you’re one of the 5 people I haven’t told yet, I slipped on some ice recently and fractured my ankle. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Red Bull Communications Department and the Arena security staff for helping me get around and not have to miss out on the 1st match of the season.
CONCACAF Champions League, Round of 16
Leg 1: 1-1 Draw
Leg 2: 2-0 Win (3-1 agg.)
Before MLS kicked off for the 2018 season, the New York Red Bulls began their campaign in the CONCACAF Champions League with a trip to Costa Rica to face the Honduran club Olimpia in the first leg of the Round of 16.
That 1st leg, played in an empty stadium at a neutral location, was not particularly a stand-out match. Forward Daniel Royer scored in the 31st minute, only to have the score equalized by Brayan Moya in the 79th minute with a penalty kick following a hard tackle by defender Aurelien Collin. While the Away Goal Rule was in place, which weighted RBNY’s goal a little more, going into the 2nd leg with a draw allowed for the drama to play out at Red Bull Arena.
And play out it did.
Adeus meu amigo: While rumors had swirled in recent weeks, it was only when the gameday roster of 18 was announced that it became clear Brazilian midfielder Felipe Martins was no longer part of the team. It was not until 2 days later that the trade was made official, sending Felipe to the Vancouver Whitecaps in exchange for defender Tim Parker (and a bunch of GAM TAM THANK YOU MA’AM that I’m not going to bother to explain). Like the other recent departures from RBNY, there’s sadness among fans, but the general consensus is that it was time to move on and we wish him well… until he comes back to face the Red Bulls.
Visa- not quite everywhere you want to be: Moya, as well as 2 other players for CD Olimpia, were prevented from traveling to Harrison for the 2nd leg due to issues with their visas. I don’t know who should have taken steps to ensure that all players would be able to travel, but it should have been handled.
Willkommen: Marc Rzatkowski (shh-KOFF-skee), on loan from Red Bull Salzburg, made the starting XI in the midfield. And he shined. I loved every second he was on the ball. Unlike other players who have joined the squad in recent seasons, Rzatkowski’s integration was seamless and immediate.
“He was fantastic, I mean his work ethic, the thing that you’ll see with him, the best of any player I’ve ever seen is with the ball and any movement within the game he comes back and thinks about closing down space and second balls, he’s incredible.”
–Coach Jesse Marsch
Dos a Cero: Following a well-moving but scoreless first half, striker Bradley Wright-Phillips opened his account for 2018 competition with a laser shot in the 54th minute that the Olimpia goalkeeper was sure was going to go wide. The pace was markedly faster after the goal from both sides.
Midfielder and RBNY Academy product Sean Davis doubled the lead with a goal in the 64th minute.
If anyone was worried about what was going to happen to the Red Bulls midfield following the exit of the likes of Dax McCarty, Sacha Kljestan, and now Felipe… it seems the kids are alright (Davis, RZA, and Tyler Adams).
#HolaKaku: Alejandro Romero Gamarra, who couldn’t travel to Costa Rica and instead played with Red Bulls II in the final match of the Mobile Mini Sun Cup, made his RBA debut in the 64th minute. He replaced Alex Muyl, who deserved the rest following 4 total shots at ridiculous angles.
Kaku was credited with 2 shots and a respectable 81.3% passing accuracy. His slightly off-frame shot in the 84th minute was inches away from instant legendary status. It will have to wait for another day.
The Red Bulls face Club Tijuana in the quarterfinals and will be back at Red Bull Arena on the 13th, but will also open their MLS season against the Portland Timbers this weekend.