I’ve been kinda busy. You’ve heard that one from me before. But you deserve something from me, Dear Reader.
I’m On My Way
The Red Bulls have made the playoffs every year since Red Bull Arena opened. Ten seasons now. Will it be different this time? The team has entered at the top and the bottom of the bracket in those years. But the MLS Cup eludes them. Their style of play has always seemed to blow up in their faces during the post-season. If even one piece of their complex puzzle is missing, the entire thing is for naught. That cannot happen again… unless it does.
Be a Big Noise
The Red Bulls welcomed the Philadelphia Union for Hispanic Heritage night. Having won their last game against the Portland Timbers, RBNY needed to use that momentum. Problem was, they didn’t. Not really. They were sluggish in comparison to that last game. Although, to be fair, I was sluggish after that game, too. 10:30pm kickoffs are no joke! But I digress.
Tom Barlow scored just after the half-hour mark and y’all… it was pretty sweet. That mid-western kid is making things happen. Officially, he hails from St. Louis- not a “small town.” But the big city is putting him up with the big boys.
So Much Larger Than Life
The Red Bull back line came up big, in the way fans have expected them to. Aaron Long’s goal line clearance and Tim Parker’s ability to completely trounce opponents are a thing of beauty. Kemar Lawrence sacrificed himself repeatedly to make the necessary runs and tackles. Kyle Duncan, who scored midweek against Portland, went the full 90 and proved he is ready for more.
I Greet Them With the Widest Smile
Winning by one goal is fine, but having a second is really nice too. There were plenty of opportunities throughout the game. When Bradley Wright-Phillips entered the match with 29 minutes left, one might expect he would add to the scoreline.
And he did… by assisting Danny Royer in the 96th minute.
(I’d love to get the backstory on every tattoo he’s got.)
I’ve Got to Make it Show
Red Bull fans are now starting D.C. Hate Week, when they give voice to the rivalry that fosters the Atlantic Cup (all apologies to my editor-in-chief and lovely colleague). Then a jaunt up to Stade Saputo and the Montreal Impact to end the regular season. The potential to host a playoff match is on the line. A home field advantage is, well… big.
(P.S. Remember when music videos were an art form?)
Tuesday, June 11th: 2-3 loss (US Open Cup 4th Round)
Hello, folks. It’s been a while. And while there has been no shortage of soccer on my TV and in my life (U13 Flight Champs!) I’ve had a hard time committing words to screen about the New York Red Bulls.
We used to be Together
First the good stuff: I watched Aaron Long join the US Men’s National Team once again, but this time with feeling. The CONCACAF Gold Cup is taking place around the country, and expectations for the Yanks are guarded but high. The USMNT won it all the last time out, but that was before the overall collapse that kept them out of the World Cup (don’t drink every time someone mentions it– your liver can’t handle it). But the team is scraping their way up again.
Winning their group in decisive fashion, RBNY defender Aaron Long scored two of the team’s eleven group stage goals. They head to Lincoln Financial in Philadelphia (home of the NFL Eagles) to face Curaçao in the Quarterfinals. The hope is continued health and success (but mostly health) for Aaron Long and the rest of the USMNT.
I really feel that I’m losing my best friend
So, as does happen from time to time, my personal life got in the way of me watching the Red Bulls match against the Philadelphia Union. And until someone pays me to not miss this stuff, that’s gonna be how it goes. But I digress.
Relying on Twitter for updates, I was thrilled to see RBNY up by two goals at the half. Union have been at the top of the Eastern Conference for a while, and should never be underestimated. They have often been the team to ‘figure out’ the Red Bulls. But maybe this time would be different.
A come-from-behind win for the Union, including a brace and an assist from Ilsinho, cemented Philly’s position atop the East. But hey- at least there was the Open Cup for RBNY to sink their cleats into.
I can’t believe this could be the end
The Red Bulls usually make a deep run in the Open Cup, even making it to the Final in 2017. They’ve only lost the 4th round match once before, in 2014. They met the New England Revolution at their USL stomping grounds, MSU Soccer Park at Montclair State University. Weird flex, but okay.
The atmosphere actually worked out for the most part. But a Revs goal from Juan Agudelo in the first minute did not make for an enjoyable evening. Goals from Tom Barlow and Cristian Casseres Jr. gave fans hope. Until Teal Bunbury bagged a brace, including one in added extra time, to advance the Revs in the Open Cup over RBNY.
The next game is June 28th. Seventeen days since their last match. Thanks to Instagram, fans could catch a glimpse of players traveling to see family and friends before making their way back to training. Most notably, striker Bradley Wright-Phillips is fully training following a groin injury that sidelined him several weeks. They will welcome former captain, and new dad, Dax McCarty and the Chicago Fire for their first Pride Night event taking place in June. It is not a time for words, but a time for action.
New York sports fans can be particularly salty, but one can do several tequila shooters with fan tweets of late. So as much as fans and press colleagues have missed nights at Red Bull Arena, they are wary of this second half of the season. There are still three trophies up for grabs, but it’s up to the team to do what it takes to earn them.
(P.S. No real commentary other than, “Wow I love this song.”)
Having missed a heck of a show last Saturday (a 3-2 win over the mighty Galaxy), I was looking forward to the team going three in a row at home. They’ve had a rough go of things so far this season, with only three wins. But their fortune was turning around, and another win against a Piatti-less Montreal Impact would set them up for a positive road trip to Dallas.
Don’t look now; things just got worse.
I got my wings: The RBNY pipeline has multiple channels. Tom Barlow, selected in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, cut his teeth in the USL squad and made a big impression. He has already put up six goals this season for RBII, so Sporting Director Denis Hamlett gave him the big call-up: he signed a first team contract. Just hours after the official announcement, Barlow found himself in the Starting XI.
It was a bit of a surprise to the Missouri native. “I was supposed to go to Canada with the USL team and I tried handing in my passport and they said I’m not going.” (Red Bulls II played to a 1-1 draw against the Ottawa Fury the same day as the MLS match).
With striker Bradley Wright-Phillips still out with an injury, it was time to ‘shop the closet’ and bring in someone the organization hopes is ready for the next level. Keeping his USL number 74 jersey, he also played 74 minutes.
While he didn’t score the hat trick I was of course expecting, he made a good showing. The only way for a player like Barlow to get used to being in MLS is for him to actually be in MLS. This is admittedly easier said than done, especially when the team overall isn’t doing well. But that’s not on Barlow. I’m excited for the kid… and I know how ‘Soccer Mom’ that makes me sound. I’m not ashamed.
When things start to feel right: For the third straight game, a defender tallied a goal for RBNY. This time, it was Aaron Long, 2018 MLS Defender of the Year. Our own Captain America. His header off Marc Rzatkowski’s free kick was perfection. It was the kind of set piece goal that had been New York’s signature threat in seasons past. All they had to do was continue in that vein for the second half.
You can count on me to start to doubt it: When Maxi Urruti put an inswinger to Zakaria Diallo and Diallo leveled the match, it was a small disappointment. The game was just past the hour mark– plenty of time to renew the attack, or at least hold the tie and get a point.
But Aaron Long’s over-emphatic defense on Anthony Jackson-Hamel resulted in a penalty kick for the Impact. Urruti took the kick from the spot, opening his account for the season with the conversion. Another defensive move from Long moments later sparked a hamstring injury that forced him off the field.
Manager Chris Armas had already spent his three substitutions on attacking options, so the team was forced to play with only ten men for the last ten minutes of the match. Thankfully the Red Bulls were able to keep Montreal from capitalizing on the advantage. Granted the damage had already been done. So now the Red Bulls head to Dallas trying to put it back together.
P.S. When the Red Bulls were winning, I was all set to use one song. Then I chose another when they were tied. I was at a loss when the team… well– lost. But thanks to my satellite radio for coming in clutch.
When I decided to make sure 100% of my articles had a musical theme, I did worry that there would be difficulty. Would I be forced to repeat myself? Would I rely on the same artists? Could there be a song that encapsulated the team performance, good, bad, or indifferent?
Behold, the power of music.
I must’ve dreamed a thousand dreams: This is the same team that won the 2018 Supporter’s Shield, right? I mean, I was there. Compared to last year, this hardly looks like the same team.
Okay, so Tyler Adams left for German pastures. That shouldn’t have made such a difference. But losing 1-0 to the New England Revolution? Both teams were looking for just their second win of the season. Something’s clearly missing, and it’s not just a matter of personnel.
Losing control by the hour: It wasn’t like the Red Bulls had nothing going for them. Overall, the team looked more like themselves, allowing New England to have the ball and trying to take advantage of turnovers. Shots came from all but three players who saw time on the field. Bradley Wright-Phillips alone was responsible for four shots. But nothing found the inside of the net. Instead, Cristian Penilla came off the bench in the 71st minute and scored just two minutes later. Even though Andreas Ivan tried to pull a super-sub move of his own, it hit the outside of the net instead.
Not much love to go round: So the frustration is real. 1-2-4 on the season. There’s a saying in business– “If you can’t change the people, you have to change the people.” So if the current players and coaches aren’t up to snuff, it’s time to look for new players and coaches… right? The rumors about a certain former RBNY player coming back to coach were greatly unfounded. And new players will have to wait until summer, anyway.
The call of International Duty may help absent Red Bull hearts to grow fonder or allow new faces to make their impact. The regular season is a marathon, not a sprint. But something has to give, and soon. This coming weekend, RBNY hosts expansion squad FC Cincinnati.
(I loved the original, but it was written before most of the squad was born. So here’s the impressive cover version. I hope you don’t mind that I went with a video minus the uber-political imagery– we all know how Genesis and Disturbed feel.)
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.