Tag Archives: Sylvana Budesheim

Sounds for the New York Red Bulls Post-Season

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

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

I’m coming to you from the comfort of my couch once again with an overview of the Eastern Conference competition. Usually, I integrate songs or movies into my articles, but this calls for a more onomatopoeic approach.

Heh

The New York Red Bulls had secured a first-round bye even before winning the Supporter’s Shield on Decision Day. The knockout round was between the Columbus Crew and DC United. While a classic Atlantic Cup matchup would have been amazing, it was the Crew who emerged victorious following 120 minutes and a PK shootout.

Hmph

Leg 1, at MAPFRE Stadium, ended with Columbus ahead by one goal. RBNY fans were bracing themselves for disappointment. Was the team going to crash out in the playoffs after the euphoric Shield win?

HAH

The Empire struck back. A deflection from Alex Muyl (17′) and a brace from Daniel Royer (73′, 76′) put the Red Bulls through to the Conference Finals (3-1 aggregate). Flames shot out from pillars on the goals with every score, and the crowd was equally fired up.

#@&%!

There was an International break that took Aaron Long and Tyler Adams to Europe for friendlies with the US Men’s National team. Kemar Lawrence, Kaku, and Derrick Etienne, Jr. were called to International duty as well. So there was a break in playoff action.

Not really worth complaining about, although I’m sure plenty of people did. The final had been settled before the break anyway. Atlanta United made quick work of NYCFC for their semifinal round. But they had never defeated RBNY before. And while the Red Bulls never took that record for granted, no one was prepared for what actually happened.

Eastern Conference Final (Leg 1) – Mercedes-Benz Stadium

First, RBNY announced Lawrence was injured and put homegrown defender Connor Lade in his spot in the lineup. Then the defense was outrun by Josef Martinez, Miguel Almiron, and Tito Villalba. But the first and the second sentences are unrelated. If anything, Lade slotted back into the defense wonderfully. It was… hard to explain, really.

To say that they didn’t look like themselves is a sort of cop-out, a cliche that gets trotted out for any loss. But this is the only way to explain it. The Red Bulls push up the field, and the ball spent way too much time near their goal to say they were doing what they do.

Did they keep Atlanta from getting particularly fancy? Sure. But ugly soccer can win, too. And that’s what happened. With a three-goal deficit, RBNY had a lot of work to do in this Eastern Conference Final.

*Sigh*

The Red Bulls scored four or more goals in thirteen matches in all competitions this year. They were able to hold opponents scoreless at home three months solid. So while it was not impossible for the team to pull off something downright magical, the fear crept in.

Eastern Conference Final (Leg 2) – Red Bull Arena

The game itself was good. There was movement. There was pressing. There was also cursing and shoving and yellow cards and a last-ditch goal at the death from Tim Parker that hasn’t gotten half the credit it deserves. Had they been able to hold Atlanta scoreless in that first leg, fans would still be partying and Parker would probably never have to pay for another beer in the NY Metro area ever again.

But instead, Atlanta will be hosting the Portland Timbers for the MLS Cup Final. I’ve watched it the past couple of years, even as I’ve seen RBNY crash out. But this year…? I don’t think I can do it. I’ve never thought the Red Bulls deserved to be there more than they did this year. For them to not be hosting is devastating.

Exit interviews are scheduled for Monday, December 3rd. The team was required to submit roster on Friday, November 30th.  But the first major announcement has already been released:

I’ve met and spoken to Adams once or twice. He is exactly who he seems to be, and the Red Bulls organization has helped to shape that. Not only that, but his career with the USMNT is a bright spot that should mean great things in Qatar and North America for the upcoming World Cup cycles. I look forward to seeing him with RB Leipzig.

As for the rest of the team? I’m not going to make predictions (never been that good at them, anyway). But I do know that I’ll be back to talk about it all next season. I hope you’ll be there to read it.

Featured image: @kakuromero17

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Save the Empire

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

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Sunday, November 4th: 1-0 Loss 

Eastern Conference Semifinals, Leg 1

Fresh off a first-round bye, the New York Red Bulls traveled to MAPFRE Stadium to face the Columbus Crew. The Crew had to battle through 120 minutes and a penalty shootout to eliminate DC United from the 2018 MLS Playoffs.

So, I have been a part of the #SaveTheCrew movement. And it seems to have worked. But now… it’s time to Save the Empire. (The initial name for the NY/NJ MLS team was Empire Soccer Club.)

DISCLAIMER: One of my favorite players (my 10-year-old) had a game about the same time as the playoff game. I had to listen to the Crew radio play-by-play to get any sense of what was happening in Columbus.

It wasn’t pretty.

WHAT’S WITH TODAY, TODAY?: The only goal of the game was scored for the Crew by striker Gyasi Zardes. While RBNY had a handle on the possession and attack throughout the match, they couldn’t finish their chances. Their set pieces didn’t yield any useful results, and a momentary lapse was all it took for the Crew to get behind the defense. 

I feel as if I have said this before. 

WE MUSTN’T DWELL: There are plenty of serviceable cliches that can be used now. “It’s only halftime.” “Down but not out.” The team has to focus on the things that have brought them this far. Supporter’s Shield winners. CONCACAF Champions League Semifinals. Open Cup runs. They’ve fallen short. There is no shortage of articles from any soccer outlet quick to point this out. This is the moment to flip the script. And if they can do it, nothing will stand in their way. 

DAMN THE MAN, SAVE THE EMPIRE: The second leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals will be back at Red Bull Arena, a fortress for the team. With the fans behind them, the team is ready to give it all they’ve got. They will have their Rex Manning Day.  

Featured image: Bill Twomey

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New York Red Bulls and the Decision Day Drama

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

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Decision Day.

This isn’t a day to just build momentum for the playoffs. Not a time to sit back and prepare for a couple of months off. No one is here to just contemplate his future with his club. The Supporter’s Shield is not absolutely decided yet.

There’s a party to be had. Or one to crash.

Orlando City SC sits in last place for the Eastern Conference. Former Red Bull New York captain Sacha Kljestan is ready to keep his former team from the prize that he once lifted for them.

Just north of the border, Toronto FC hosts Atlanta United. The reigning MLS Cup Champions and current Shield holders have been edged out of the playoffs. With a win by ATL, Atlanta could take both the Shield and the season points record at BMO Field.

Red Bulls rooting for Toronto? Atlanta rooting for Orlando?

This is one strange party.

SUPPORTER’S DAY: From the Fan-designed scarves to the supporter group bubble soccer match at halftime, today was for the fans. They are the reason the Shield is a thing. In other leagues around the world, today would be the final game of the season. They don’t “do” playoffs. And with the Shield within reach, the team was compelled to give it all they had.

NOT SO FAST: Scoreless on both sides in the first half, this wasn’t going to be easy. Toronto FC was nice enough to score two goals, which would do the job. But an actual win would be much more satisfying.

THAT’S THE STUFF: Derrick Etienne, Jr., RBNY’s “Haitian Messi,” who missed a penalty kick in the first half, made a beautiful goal in the 53rd minute. He’s had a rough season, unable to finish the chances he’s had. But he was able to sneak the ball under Orlando goalkeeper Adam Grinwis‘s arm and into the net.

Dom Dwyer found the back of the net ten minutes later, but…… (here we go again…)

ENTER VAR.

The Assistant Referee called Dwyer offside, and VAR confirmed it. So while a scoreline of 1-0 isn’t incredibly sexy, it accomplished the mission. (Oh, and did I mention Toronto ended up winning 4-1? Because yeah they did.)

WHEN IN DOUBT, IMPROVISE: Who doesn’t love a good trophy raise? Only trouble was, the trophy won tonight was out of town. But the team had a banner. They had confetti cannons. They even plasticated the locker room for the champagne showers (plasticate is a word, don’t @ me). So what do they do?

Seriously, though: Congratulations to the New York Red Bulls. The most home points, the most home wins, a league record for points earned, and the third Supporter’s Shield in 6 seasons. A hell of a way to close the season. On to the playoffs!

Featured image: Bill Twomey

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Red Bulls Doing it Right

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

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Saturday, October 6: 1-3 Win

How much of a bummer would it have been for me to have to report on a loss on my first article back from my hiatus? Thanks to the boys in white, I don’t have to worry about such things.

LONG TIME COMING: I don’t usually know factoids like this… The New York Red Bulls have not won an away game against the San Jose Earthquakes during the regular season since it was the Metrostars playing the Clash (2003). That’s a mighty long time. They did defeat the Earthquakes in a playoff match in 2010. That and two dollars gets them a ride on the subway. The Colorado Rapids won the Cup that year. But I digress.

It could have been a loss. Despite the strongest roster in recent history. Regardless of the resounding win against Atlanta the week before. MLS does… well… MLS things. A cross-country trek. An international break looming. Two usual starters not even along for the trip (Tyler Adams and Daniel Royer).  So there was no foregone conclusion for the evening.

‘SICK’ IS A COMPLIMENT: RBNY used their signature High Press tactic to keep the possession and the threat close to the San Jose goal. Quakes goalkeeper James Marcinkowski, a 21-year-old Academy product, held up for the most part. But then Red Bull workhorse midfielder Alex Muyl recovered Marcinkowski’s deflection of Michael Amir Murillo’s shot and quite literally rode it into the net.

I want you to note that striker Bradley Wright-Phillips was quite close to the action. He could have gotten a foot on there as well. But he didn’t have to, and he knew it. Besides, his time was coming. About 200 seconds later.

Marc Rzatkowski took a free kick that Wright-Phillips got his head on. But it bounced off the far post. But it went right back to Wright-Phillips.

SO. HE. ASSISTED. HIMSELF.

If that isn’t the stuff of legend, I don’t know what to tell you.

THIRD TIME WAS A CHARM: It just kept getting better. Starting with a corner kick (courtesy of RZA), dynamic defender duo Tim Parker and Aaron Long joined forces to land the ball in the net a third time.

(If you didn’t see the play… you have to see the play. Seriously. On a loop.)

ON TO THE NEXT: I could talk about Chris Wondolowski’s goal (83′), but quite frankly I’d rather mention how he missed an open net a few minutes before and made me giggle uncontrollably. But that’s neither here nor there… let the Quakes get their own reporter.

It’s time for an international break. Six players are headed to national team call ups: Derrick Etienne Jr, Haiti; Kemar Lawrence, Jamaica; Amir Murillo and Fidel Escobar, Panama; Alejandro “Kaku” Romero Gamarra, Paraguay; and Aaron Long, United States.

Then comes one more away match against the Philadelphia Union and the final home match of the regular season against Orlando City. The Red Bulls have already secured a spot and a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Featured image: @NewYorkRedBulls

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Red Bull Review

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

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

::wakes up, yawns, stretches::

Hey guys… what’d I miss?

::Reads messages on phone::

EVERYTHING?!?!? I MISSED ALL OF IT????

Sorry, folks. I’ve actually been working 7 days a week for the past two months. I barely got to watch any of the games, let alone put together my thoughts on them.

FIVE, SIX SEVEN, EIGHT: The New York Red Bulls ended August with a 5-match run, including a double during MLS Heineken Rivalry Week. I have been critical of the Hudson River Derby as a legitimate rivalry… until I watched that 2nd half (I only got home in time for the second half… yay, my life).

It had spark. It had fight. It had technical ability and creativity on both sides. And it was a 1-1 draw. Scoring actually happened! Then they salvaged the match against Wayne Rooney and DC United 3-3. Draws during Rivalry Week actually make me giggle.

YOU’RE GONNA BE A STAR: There was an international break that RBNY actually honored, and several players were called to their national teams for friendlies. I personally went to the Ecuador v Jamaica match at Red Bull Arena with my dad, my son, and my Colorado Rapids counterpart. That was pretty great. Not getting to see Kemar Lawrence in action… less great. What can you do?

That same night, Tyler Adams, Tim Parker, and Aaron Long were about ten miles away representing the US. Huge congratulations to Aaron Long, who has taken the long way around (pun slightly intended) to his first call-up. He was never in a US Youth National team. He’s a kid from California (who had made questionable hairstyle choices in the past) who has proven himself as a strong defender and credible attacking threat, with two goals for the regular season.

NOW FOR THE BIG FINISH: With three matches left in the season, the New York Red Bulls are in 2nd place for the conference and the race for the Supporter’s Shield. Sophomore darlings Atlanta United are in the lead… but they couldn’t secure their position against RBNY. They were defeated (again) by the boys in red 2-0, even though Bradley Wright-Phillips was suspended due to yellow card accumulation and Tyler Adams was out with back issues.

Adams has also withdrawn from the US Men’s National Team roster for their October friendlies as a result. Aaron Long will be back with the USMNT.

The Red Bulls face the San Jose Earthquakes tonight at Avaya Stadium in California. I might just stay awake to get back in the swing of things.

Featured image: Bill Twomey

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Red Bulls vs Columbus: RBN-Why?

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

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Saturday, July 28th: 2-3 Loss

Last time the New York Red Bulls faced Columbus Crew, they traveled to Ohio and came home with a goal and a point. This time, hometown hero Mike Grella and the Crew made their way to a steamy Red Bull Arena for the rematch. This time, sharing wasn’t an option.

NEW NOMS ON THE BLOCK: Don’t get me wrong, I am well-fed by the Red Bull organization when I get to the game. But the latest buzz is for something I cannot readily get my hands on:

Being of South American descent, I have a mighty need for these empanadas. But alas, I have yet to try them. Don’t worry- when I get them, you’ll know.

WHO WHAT WHERE: For the third game in eight days, it makes sense to give some of the hardest-working players a rest. Bradley Wright-Phillips, who has become the fastest MLS player to reach 100 goals, began the night on the bench. Alejandro Romero Gamarra, who is currently leading the league in assists, was also seated at the opening whistle. Defender Kemar Lawrence, who has emerged as a decisive force in the defense, never saw the field against Columbus.

So who got the start instead? Aurelien Collin and Connor Lade in the back line, and Derrick Etienne, Jr. up top. I’ve spoken of “Haitian Messi” before. Nice guy. Amazing skills on the ball. But the finishing wasn’t there. Does he lack confidence? That would be disappointing since he does so well with RBII. How will he know what he’s capable of if he doesn’t get more of an opportunity?

NOT ACCORDING TO PLAN: Head coach Chris Armas came into the match prepared. At their last encounter, the Crew got frazzled with a 5-1-3-1 formation that RBNY ran in the second half, which earned them the draw. But while the Red Bulls made the tactical adjustment, so did Columbus.  “[N]o matter what formation that we’re playing in, if we’re late to plays, a step late, if we’re not up for that part of it, they can just pick you apart,” Armas said of the decision following the match. And that is the overall theme of the first 45 minutes.

First came the foul that yielded a free kick. Jonathan Mensah scored the opening goal (7′). Then Patrick Mullins angled a shot past Luis Robles in the run of play (24′). But the nail in the coffin was the own-goal from Sean Davis (31′). 

DO SOMETHING: BWP and Kaku came on at halftime. And the tide began to turn. Daniel Royer crossed the ball to BWP. Mensah tried to keep the ball away but committed an own-goal instead (50′). Then Royer made a goal of his own (69′).

With the team back in a 4-3-2-1 formation, the possession settled back in RBNY’s favor. Tim Parker nearly nailed a header. Aaron Long almost got a bicycle kick past Crew GK Zack Steffen. A later attempt from Royer went over the crossbar. And Alex Muyl, who made the equalizer in the previous meeting, nearly socked Steffen in the gut trying to do it again. But the Crew saved themselves and took all three points back to Columbus. (And I’ll say it again: SAVE THE CREW. That sentiment transcends competition.)

The MLS All-Star Game is next, with BWP, Aaron Long, and Michael Amir Murillo slated to take the field against Juventus(‘s reserve squad) in Atlanta. Sadly, I won’t be part of the festivities. But I hold out hope for next year.

Featured image:  Bill Twomey Photography. Used with permission.

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @WhiteZinWench

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New York Red Bulls: Remember Me For Centuries

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

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Wednesday, July 25th: 0-1 Win

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?

Enter VAR.

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.

Featured image: @MSGNetworks

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Don’t Rain on the Red Bull Parade

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

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Saturday, July 21: 2-0 Win

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 to Red Bull Arena (no easy task, as I’m still in an ankle brace). But I had to outdrive the rain.

And still, it followed me.

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 Cup rivalry. Will we see history then? Nobody, no nobody is gonna rain on my parade!

Featured image: Bill Twomey, used with permission

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New York Red Bulls Over the Rainbow

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

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Saturday, July 14th: 3-2 Win

After what seems like entirely too long, the New York Red Bulls (11-5-2, 35 points) returned to Red Bull Arena. They welcomed Sporting Kansas City (9-5-6, 33 points) for a rematch of the 2017 Open Cup final. The Red Bulls haven’t defeated SKC since 2014.

THE REAL VIKING ARMY: I had promised the members of the Red Bulls Supporter Group the Viking Army that I would stop by and crash their tailgate at some point. So I made my way to the back end of the vacant warehouse on the gentrification chopping block to where their tailgate party is held.

I snapped some pictures and learned some stories.  They talked about jerseys of players traded and gone. They spoke of the moment they fell in love with the team and the passion of a supporter’s group that stands and sings for ninety minutes plus. They shared the sense of family that makes their gatherings on and between game days so special.

LOVE WINS: Does anyone know why the Red Bulls’ Pride Night is in July? Just kidding– I don’t care. They do it right. The rainbow lasers are straight fire. The scarves and running sleeves they gave away are great. And it’s never a bad time to remind everyone that anyone can play.  There was a discussion panel about supporting all athletes prior to the game, and in a time where it is still difficult for people to be themselves, we do need the reminder.

EVENLY MATCHED: Of course Bradley Wright-Phillips scores the opening goal (5′). He’ll hit 100 goals as a Red Bull very soon. But he was called offside. (Drink every time you read ‘Enter VAR’ in my article… or better yet, don’t.) The Red Bulls’ signature High Press tactic often catches an attacker offside, but that wasn’t actually the case here, and the Video Assistant Referee corrected the call. “Goals after VAR, it’s annoying, you don’t get to celebrate,” BWP lamented after the game.

And celebrate, the team could not. Johnny Russell (8′) leveled the match and both sides held each other at bay the rest of the first half. Then Roger Espinoza practically started off the second half getting SKC the lead (51′). Something had to change for the Red Bulls to not let history repeat.

RBNY IS FOR THE CHILDREN: Battling back from injury and fighting for minutes, RB Salzburg exchange student Marc Rzatkowski was subbed in for “Kaku” Romero-Gamarra in the 60th minute. Fans, knowing what Kaku is capable of, were surprised by the move from newly promoted head coach Chris Armas. After the match, Armas explained:

“Marc, he had a great week of training. In every session, he brought energy… Going into the game we thought that he would be a guy we’d rely on in some capacity.”

And boy, did he seize the day! He tallied a brace that leveled and then put RBNY ahead (72′ & 79′). He was named man of the match, and took home the game ball. And yet…

I was part of the huddle of reporters who went to RZA (so nicknamed by fans as a reference to a member of NY hip-hop group Wu Tang Clan) in the locker room after the game. Usually, Rzatkowski ducks out of the locker room as soon as he’s changed while we speak with captain Luis Robles or BWP. He had turned towards his locker to get something and looked genuinely shocked when he turned back around and saw us all there. A real team player, he shared credit with Tyler Adams and Sean Davis, the midfielders who assisted his goals.

(If you don’t catch the reference in the heading, click here)

So: same time, same place, same chance for revenge when the New England Revolution come to Harrison and face RBNY for the second time this season.

Featured image: @NewYorkRedBulls

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Here’s to our World Cup hosts, Russia

Sylvana Budesheim - NY Red Bulls/mlsfemale
Official NY Red Bulls Reporter, Russia Correspondent

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Okay, quick disclaimer: I don’t get to watch much of the World Cup. This is the first year I’ve had a job that runs through the summer. I fondly remember my first (and only) year teaching at an inner city high school and watching the 2014 tournament with a lot of Portuguese-American students. This year, I’ve had my phone streaming games at my cubicle, and have been able to watch at least one half of a given game on the TV at my job. (Don’t worry– the productivity hasn’t suffered.)

But I will tell you I watched last summer’s Confederations Cup. And I hope you don’t mind when I say… Russia was a total snoozefest. I was not really looking forward to seeing them in Group A. It was the ultimate, ‘you own the pool, so we’ll come to your party’ kind of moment. The world would smile and nod, let the team have their time in the group stage, and then we’d all watch the Germanys and the Portugals and the Argentinas take the real stage.

Well… it would seem the Russian FA said, “hold my vodka” and put together one heck of a product.

Opening Day: Russia 5, Saudi Arabia 0

Sure. This is cool. They trounced the 67th-ranked team (Russia is ranked 70th). But they did so with fourteen shots altogether, and half of them on target. And here’s the kicker (so to speak): Russia only had 38% possession. This is not a team that was desperate to keep the ball. They were content to capitalize on chances and did so convincingly. FIFA president Gianni Infantino looked on alongside Russian president Vladimir Putin and Saudi King Salman. Maybe… just maybe… Russia was going to give the world a show.

Group A Matchday 2: Russia 3, Egypt 1

Whoa. The Pharaohs. Mohammad Salah. Group A favorites (alongside Uruguay, obviously). Ranked 45th in the world by FIFA. Not so fast. Much more even in shots and possession, this was a real exercise for the host nation. Salah was neutralized in the attacking end of the field, held to a penalty kick (73′). And while the Own Goal spectre was the first scorer (and definitely on track to get the Golden Boot this year), Denis Cheryshev (59′) and Artem Dzyuba (62′) sewed up the game.

Group A Matchday 3: Uruguay 3, Russia 0

It wasn’t hard to imagine Uruguay (ranked 14th) topping the group. Despite three of their five group stage goals coming from this game alone, they dominated Group A overall. They didn’t drop a point. Add to that Russia being down a man for the majority of the game (Igor Smolnikov, straight red 36′), and the result is another day at the office. But it was enough for Russia to finish the group stage in second place. On to the Knockout Round.

Round of 16: Spain 1, Russia 1 (3-4 PK shootout)

As I used to say in high school: Ish about to get real here. Spain is ranked TENTH. They have won the freaking World Cup. They have some of the greatest players in the world today. Ain’t no shame in this game if Russia bows out now. This is the furthest they’ve ever gone*.

And of course Spain scores first. Well… kinda.

Like it or not, the ball was inside the net after a set piece. Russia was down, but not out. Then came the other error. The one that would ultimately shift the momentum of the game.

I don’t claim to know everything about soccer, but I do know this: put your daggone arms down. Dzyuba stepped up to the spot and converted the penalty kick to level the game.

We were then treated to the most boring second half of the tournament thus far. I guess both teams were content to wear each other out. But they could have tried to get something going in Added Extra Time. But no Golden Goal meant they could just keep trudging and send the game to the penalty shootout. That’s where anything could happen.

Even this:

And so it is Russia who advances. They will face Croatia in the Quarterfinals. The Germanys, the Portugals, and the Argentinas will watch from home. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to keep enjoying this ride, however long it lasts.

* Russia advanced to the World Cup Quarterfinals in 1970, when they were the Soviet Union.

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