Finally! The Atlantic Cup. The OG rivalry. DC United. Recently opened Audi Field the venue, this was a night for history.
Okay… a *late* night for history. After an extended winter, the Northeast has decided to try on monsoon season. While I would have loved to have made the trip down to DC, it wasn’t in the cards for me. And looking at the scenes at Audi Field, I’m okay with that.
WE’LL GO DOWN IN HISTORY: Just two minutes into the first half, striker Bradley Wright-Phillips found the ball from “Kaku” Romero and made his shot. It wasn’t a bicycle from midfield, but a nutmeg that blasted past goalkeeper David Ousted. His 100th MLS goal. And his celebration was worth the yellow card given for it: BWP yanked off his ’99’ jersey to reveal a ‘100’ jersey. Shout out to Sean Ruiz, RBNY’s kitman.
JUST ONE MISTAKE: DC responded with a goal of their own (Paul Arriola 28′). But guess what, folks?
Goal was overturned due to Arriola being offside. It wasn’t a difficult call to make.
HEAVY METAL ROCK MY HEART: Have to take some time to appreciate the massive efforts of defender Tim Parker in this game. While the high press causes reporters to feature attacking midfielders and strikers, the back line is crucial is starting off plays and keeping the ball out of the net when the counterattack is on. While goalkeeper and captain Luis Robles was credited with two saves on the night, he would have had to make at least four more if not for Parker’s efforts in the box.
SOME TURN TO DUST OR TO GOLD: This is the most I’ve gotten to see Everton and England legend Wayne Rooney this season. And he still, more or less, has the sharpness and power that DC was hoping for from him. I can’t help but think he’d be more effective as a starter to give him a chance to really get into the game. Hopefully, he can do some great things to salvage DCU’s season.
WE ALL POISONED YOU: The second half was slightly ruined for me as an at-home TV watcher. The ‘gremlins,’ as MSG’s Steve Cangialosi called them, kept messing with the video feed. I was slightly thankful that there weren’t any more goals that I could have missed. But when the final whistle blew, the Red Bulls moved into second place, and still have two games in hand on Atlanta United.
They return home to face former teammate Mike Grella and the Columbus Crew for their second matchup of the season.
Like most game days, I woke up with sunshine and optimism. So I had to spend my day at work. no big deal. I just had to book it toRed Bull Arena (no easy task, as I’m still in an ankle brace). But I had to outdrive the rain.
I’ve been at the arena in rain –and snow– before. But the overhang at RBA (that makes it look like an energy drink spaceship from the outside) means that very few spectators have to worry about looking a mess.
SOMETHING NEW: The day before the match, the New York Red Bulls announced their signing of Andreas Ivan, a 23-year-old Romanian midfielder who has been playing in lower divisions in Germany. While coach Chris Armas has indicated that Ivan will be integrated as soon as possible, it wasn’t quite as fast as Tim Parker‘s entry at the beginning of the season. I happened to see him after the game as Ben Mines brought him into the locker room.
TAKE TWO: The last meeting between these teams ended with the New England Revolution taking all three points. RBNY weren’t about to let that happen again, especially not at home. The Red Bulls’ home record is impressive, now 8-1-1. It wasn’t going to be easy.
Some people may have written off the Revolution at the beginning of the season, but new head coach Brad Friedel has done some impressive work with the team. Armas made a point of saying that both teams play a similar style, which was going to make things difficult.
IN THE CARDS: Did you know soccer is a contact sport? It may not be like gridiron football or ice hockey, but there’s no doubt that physicality is key. And there was plenty of physicality to go around. Thirty fouls total from both teams. Four yellow cards:Aaron Long and “Kaku” Romero in the first half, Antonio Delamea and Luis Caicedo in the second. The wet conditions on the field didn’t help either, as pushes became shoves and clean slides devolved into brutal tackles.
SCORE, AND SCORE AGAIN: If you watched the World Cup, you ought to know that set pieces are a wonderful thing. Breakout difference maker Marc Rzatkowski, fresh off his two-goal performance, tallied an assist with his free kick that found its way to Daniel Royer‘s foot. In the hubbub in the box, Royer tucked the ball away (70’).
Then came number 99 for Number 99. Bradley Wright-Phillips nailed a header into the goal from Kaku’s cross (80′). History could have been made when a call for a handball in the box was about to put BWP at the spot.
Say it with me now: ENTER VAR. The handball call was overturned.
After the game, Wright-Phillips said he was rather relieved that his 100th goal didn’t come from the spot. He doesn’t usually attempt PKs anyway. How would he prefer to score his 100th goal? “A bicycle kick from midfield,” he quipped after the game. That should work. Wayne Rooney and DC United should be worried.
The Red Bulls’ next game is at brand new Audi Field. RBNY fans call these next few days #DCHateWeek, a nod to the MLS 1.0 Atlantic Cuprivalry. Will we see history then? Nobody, no nobody is gonna rain on my parade!
Is there such a thing as too much soccer? For ten days now, we’ve been fed three square matches a day thanks to the World Cup. And while the rest of the world’s clubs rest and prepare for transfers and tournaments of their own, Major League Soccer got back to it with ten games this weekend.
So is there such a thing as too much soccer? Um… no. Let’s get this party started.
ROCKET’S RED GLARE: The fireworks began right at the beginning. Literally. There are those who say “no pyro, no party,” and the flashpots and sparklers during the walkout and the National Anthem were proof of that. And while I didn’t get to see the post-game fireworks myself, fans were quite pleased.
BABY, YOU’RE A FIREWORK: The game started a little messy. There were a number of scrappy battles for the ball. But then Tyler Adams won a ball from Kellyn Acosta and crossed the ball to Bradley Wright-Phillips for a tap-in (23′). This was his eleventh goal of the season, one step closer to 100 career goals.
“Aaron is always a threat. He’s so good in the air. He’s very athletic and so he’s always good on set pieces. We run a lot of things to try to free him up and try to get him opportunities, so great for him to get a goal.” —Coach Jesse Marsch
CHERRY BOMB: Well, this was a little awkward… Danny Royer, who we know is a very passionate player, appeared to stomp his opponent. He was given a yellow card in the 25th minute. Enter the Video Assisted Referee, and the yellow becomes a red. Royer is sent off for the first time ever. Here- I’ll do the math for you: that’s SIXTY-FIVE minutes (before stoppage) down one player. Yikes.
BOOM BOOM BOOM: The team seemed to take Royer’s absence and let it fuel their attack. A corner kick from Sean Davis (40′) connected with Aaron Long for a goal. Enter VAR once again. There was a question that FC Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez was fouled upon. But after review, Long was indeed awarded the goal, his second of the season.
SHOOT ACROSS THE SKY: When the second half began, the 9 field players remaining lined up in two rows of four and put one up top. Since they were up by two goals, it wouldn’t have been much of a shock if they just did what they could to hold on.
Nobody told Kemar Lawrence that. In the 48th minute, a pass from Alejandro “Kaku” Romero Gamarra found Lawrence, who popped the ball into the net to effectively sew up the match.
“You know, I’m not one that is all about the goals, I’m more about clean sheets, my team getting three points but getting the goal was fun. The guys created a great play, snuck me in, I got a good touch and nobody was in the box for me to pass to so I decided to shoot.” —Kemar Lawrence, describing his goal
The Red Bulls head to the Great White North and BMO Field to face a faltering Toronto FC, who just lost to NYCFC in Yankee Stadium this weekend. There were different fireworks last time they met there…
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.
The Eastern Conference has already been decided the week before Major League Soccer’s Decision Day. The New York Red Bulls (13-12-8, 47 points), despite what felt like a rickety roller coaster of a season, clinched the final spot in the playoffs with a decisive win at home against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
When RBNY played Atlanta United (15-9-9, 54 points) on Opening Day for this season, it was a momentous occasion. While the sparkling newcomers opened the scoring, they faltered at not only the feet of legendary Red Bull striker Bradley Wright-Phillips, but also their own: an own goal gave the day to the team of MLS history. And while that’s not exactly how a team wants to win, fans surely took it as a sign of a strong season for RBNY while Atlanta braced themselves for growing pains in their inaugural season. But as the season continued, it was clear: one game does not a season make.
[Insert Flatliners joke about DC United here. What? It’s not like I have a DCU colleague to insult… yet.]
Being the final home game of the regular season, RBNY participated in the league-wide tradition of Supporter’s Day, with live music and drink specials, and a promise of all sorts of fireworks, from the players as well as the pyrotechnic experts. And boy did they all deliver! Atlanta United is.. are.. um.. well..?
I do a running log of every game just so I can remember it later (You don’t wanna see it, trust me. It’s a total snoozefest). I have nearly 10 statements that include the words “taken down” or “foul by [ATL player].” Add in the only two yellow cards of the match (both for Atlanta: Yamil Asad 61′; Leadro Gonzalez-Pirez 94′) and the only thing I can say is, ‘Ouch. That’s rough.’
But RBNY head coach Jesse Marsch said… a little more:
Their bench is yelling to kick our guys from the bench, okay. So Martino is yelling in Spanish to kick our players.
Is it true? Is Jesse just speaking out of frustration? I don’t know. I don’t really care. Comments like this don’t change anything.
The Ironman vs Mr. Clean Sheet: I’m absolutely convinced that the entire 90 minutes of the match could have been comprised of RBNY GK Luis Robles punting the ball to ATLUTD GK Brad Guzan and Guzan returning it in kind. Would’ve been the most boring game ever… Both keepers were credited with 3 saves and were supported by their respective back lines.
Play Your Kids: The Average age of the players on RBNY is 26 years, 3 months (What were you doing at that age? I had two kids and the most creative I ever got with writing was making wacky fill-in-the-blank vocabulary tests for high school kids.) Atlanta United is not far behind with an average age of 26 years 7 months.
While I write, ATLUTD Midfielder Andrew Carleton is helping make some USMNT U-17 magic in the U-17 World Cup in India. RBNY’s Derrick Etienne was called up for the Haitian national team when they played a friendly against Japan. And of course, RBNY Academy product Tyler Adams was the center of attention after going another 90 minutes in red and white, having figured in USMNT’s U-17 and U-20 teams and their respective World Cup runs.
“We love our young players, and we love to develop them. We
love to teach them to play our style. We like them to be aggressive. We want them to be rewarded for their aggression, for their commitment and you see that in our system, players develop, period, period.” –Jesse Marsch, post game interview
That’s certainly great, but does that affect the veteran players?
“Obviously, the physical part of the game comes really easy for Tyler Adams. Sean Davis, I thought stood pretty tall today as well and covered a lot of ground. We’ve gotten some good performances from some young guys, and we got to push ourselves into the playoffs.” -Midfielder & team Captain Sacha Kljestan
“Maybe the light is not on me anymore, it’s on the young players… and I love that.”
-Defender Damien Perrinelle
(That’s right: I interviewed Damien Perrinelle… badly. Being a teacher for nearly 20 years, I’m used to being the one doing all the talking. But this is the only way to learn; if he’ll allow it, I’ll take another run at it next chance I get.)
The Result: Before the match, I did an Instagram Live video with my ATLUTD counterpart, and neither of us were sure what to expect. But after the attacks and counterattacks, the free kicks and the corners, the tackles and the warnings, a scoreless draw and no major injuries from either team was just about the best result that could have happened. So let the *other* fireworks begin. These two teams just might see each other one more time during the post-season.
On a personal note: I have to take this opportunity to tell you, the reader, that this writing experience with MLSFemale has been one of the best things to happen to me in recent years. I didn’t know what to expect when I first filled out an application for a media pass at Red Bull Arena. Pretty much every other writer here is a member of a team supporter club/season ticket holder, so I’m taking a very different approach by opting for the press box.
But I’ve met some amazing writers, photographers, and podcasters, and have been able to share my passion for the club with them (especially Kerissa— the Veron to my BWP). I even introduced myself to Tina Cervasio of MSG, who is a role model in the world of female sportscasting. The guys in the RBNY communications department have been super supportive, and it’s been so much fun to get to know MLS employees and soccer pundits as a result of my writing.
The players have been gracious and open, and I hope to get more time to bring their personalities to you in the coming months, even after the final whistle blows this season. I’ve had the time of my life, and I owe it all to all of you.
(PS– yeah, I know my usual musical theme didn’t come through much in this article. Don’t @ me… oh, you know what– go ahead. I’m a grown @ woman.)
“Welcome back my friends
To the show that never ends
We’re so glad you could attend Come inside, come inside”
The circus that is MLS. They have their daring heroes, their colorful sideshows, and the universal appeal of the performance.
Let me tell you what I love about soocer: anyone can play. If you have a ball and can agree where the goals are, YOU CAN PLAY. And that’s the message behind the You Can Play Project. It’s about going out there and showing the world your talent. Soccer is supposed to be the most level playing field. If you have the talent and the drive, you can do well in this sport, no matter who you are. So with rainbows on scarves and t-shirts, and the mindset that anyone can join in, the New York Red Bulls (12-9-2, 38 points) marked its first ever Pride Night by facing Orlando City SC (8-10-6, 30 points).
THE SHOW MUST GO ON: Recent USMNT shooting star and even more recent OCSC acquisition Dom Dwyer had to have a minor procedure on his nose, so he stayed home in Orlando. I don’t want to say, “Yay, crisis averted,” but it’s at least one less concern for the team. Strikers Kaká and Cyle Larin are enough of a difficulty usually. And they made their presence known on the field… for better or for worse.
THE LIONS ROARED: They scored first (Carlos Rivas 18′),
17' | Rivas with acres of space on a stray pass! His chip just goes over!
They stayed physical for the full 90+, and they weren’t afraid to foul or be fouled, to apply pressure or be caught offside. It may have resulted in an own goal (Léo Pereira, 30″), but the team deserves a measure of credit for bringing the fight to RBNY.
THE BRAVE TAMER IN THE CENTER RING: RBNY took over the 2nd half of the game, which has been their form of late. Knowing a tie was not enough to keep them safely above the red line, Bradley Wright-Phillips (60′) added to his career goal tally (now up to 83) and Sean Davis sealed the deal (80′) with an amazing bend on the ball that caused an eruption of cheers in the crowd.
(Sitting in the press box, I have an obligation to not react to the run of play, but I will admit that I am enlivened by the roar of the crowd. I’m still not jumping up and down or anything, but it puts a smile on my face.)
CLOWN MOVE: I have neither the time nor the inclination to consider every team on the eastern seaboard a “rival” so I wasn’t expecting the level of animosity between RBNY & OCSC that came to a head over the course of the match.
Additionally, the Disciplinary Committee has found both Orlando and New York in violation of the Mass Confrontation Policy in the 94th minute of the teams’ meeting. Both Orlando City and the Red Bulls have been issued warnings for each club’s first violation of the League’s policy this season.
And then there was the Video Review of this interaction, which resulted in a red card for Kaká. This made the 4 minutes of stoppage time in the 2nd half become 8 minutes. That’s just… unnecessary. And I’m not really convinced that the action was worthy of a red card! But the final whistle eventually blew, and the Red Bulls had won the day. The fireworks between the teams were replaced by actual fireworks to light the sky above the arena.
Courtesy Fernando Gonzalez via Twitter
With barely enough time to breathe, RBNY headed to Cincinnati for the Open Cup semi-final…. but that’s for another article.
Looking to save themselves from a 3-match skid, the New York Red Bulls (5-6-2, 17 points) hosted Eastern conference leaders Toronto FC (7-1-5, 26 points), who were enjoying a 6-match winning streak. Even though TFC were missing league MVP Sebastian Giovinco to injury, the team was by no means suffering, with USMNT and former Metrostar/Red Bulls players Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore leading the team.
Having broken their 19-match winning streak at home with the loss to LA Galaxy, RBNY once again hit the field looking as if they had something to prove. And indeed they started strong: the key to the match for the Red Bulls was to contain Altidore, which defenders Aaron Long and Damien Perrinelle did in no uncertain terms.
Frederik Gulbrandsen, still looking for his first goal with the team, had a great opportunity in the 15th minute, but it was saved by TFC goalkeeper Alexander Bono. (After taking a hit just at the end of the first half, Gulbrandsen was substituted at halftime.) TFC forward Tousaint Ricketts kept the defense busy, notably stopped by Kemar Lawrence in the 29th minute.
RBNY kept hammering away, finally drawing a foul in a dangerous area in the 37th minute. Set pieces, an important element of Red Bull game preparation, paid off when Bradley Wright-Phillips received the kick from Sacha Kljestan and put it into Toronto’s goal. The team relies on Wright-Phillips, who made his 74th career goal, to be the finisher. It’s what he’s been known for his whole career: makes no sense to stop now.
On the other hand, Kljestan, a perfectly capable midfielder, who has done some amazing things for club and country, is still wasting multiple touches in the attacking third. It’s disheartening to see a player who led the league in assists last year seem to not have options. He needs to get back to what he knows and forwards like Danny Royer and Alex Muyl need to be there for him.
RNBY goalkeeper Luis Robles didn’t have to make a save until the 2nd half. But then came the 70th minute: Benoit Cheyrou scored with a header off a free kick. It’s important to note that both goals for the match were scored off of set pieces, which really should be considered a plus for RBNY. To keep Toronto from scoring in the run of play is no small feat.
But nothing could have prepared us for the Save-of-the-Week-worthy moment in the 80th minute. A poor clearance by Perrinelle resulted in a penalty kick for Altidore. The stadium lit up when Robles read the kick and punched the ball to the far sideline. Moments of brilliance like that are hints that the spark that takes the team into the playoffs is still there.
The ball made its way up and down the field following Toronto’s failed PK. Even from home (and even on the 2nd viewing) I could feel the electricity in Red Bull Arena. It wasn’t the nervous and frantic pace seen in previous matches; this was passion and purpose.
There was also a few moments of confusion and palpable tension in the 87th minute when a shot by Ricketts made it to the back of the New York net but was called back. In the confusion and conferencing between the lead referee Robert Sibiga and the linesman, Vìctor Vásquez celebrated the goal in Luis Robles’ face… a bad choice. Turned out the goal was called back for interference from Raheem Edwards. Robles received a yellow card for his physical reaction to Vásquez. And honestly, if RBNY has to go the path of the Bad News Bears to get their passion back, keep those yellow cards coming. Just not too many, okay?
The pace remained to the final whistle, and lifted the spirits of this fan as well as many others. Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer, includes another home match at Red Bull Arena. Hopefully, the summer of soccer love awaits us.
MLS is unpredictable. People who want to be more assured of a game ending a particular way will look to English, German, or Mexican soccer. They can be much more confident where their Liverpools, Bayern Munichs, or Pumas will rise and fall, and where they will end up at the end of the season.
It’s just not so with MLS teams. A team like the New York Red Bulls (5-5-1, 16 points) should have sailed into Talen Energy Stadium and taken down Bottom-of-the-table Philadelphia Union (1-4-4, 7 points). Sure, they just came off a loss against Sporting Kansas City. But that was with all sorts of tweaks to their system. Maybe they just underestimated Union’s hunger to win.
It wasn’t for a lack of trying, though. The familiar faces were back in the starting XI, and the bench included a recuperated Mike Grella. The first half was largely uneventful, with solid saves from goalkeepers Luis Robles and Andre Blake. Defender Damien Perrinelle was in the action all over the defending third, and winger Alex Muyl was on the attack. However, striker Bradley Wright-Phillips seemed to give up the ball in an effort to create chances for other Red Bulls. The Union defensive line figured out BWP quickly and shut him down at every turn.
The second half became the CJ Sapong show. He scored 2 goals in the run of play (74′ & 81′) followed by a Penalty Kick (85′) for a handball in the box by Perrinelle. Despite using all three available substitutions, including Mike Grella, manager Jesse Marsch could not right the ship and the game ended in a shut out of the Red Bulls on the road.
Remember when I said MLS is unpredictable? Well, the one thing the MLS fan can count on is how difficult it is to win away from home. No team has won more than 2 away games so far this season. So perhaps it was inevitable that Philly would win. They have a town hall meeting for season ticket holders this week, and had to have been feeling the heat.
The Red Bulls have another 3-game home stand coming up, beginning with Western conference underdog LA Galaxy. They might not be hungry for their first win, but they could pull out all the stops for a solid road win. The Red Bulls have to snap their slump before it gets out of hand. This promises to be a more important game than originally expected, for both sides.