(Frisco, TX)- Saturday night was worth the price of admission for fans in Toyota Stadium, as the New York Red Bulls and FC Dallas played to a thrilling 2-2 draw. New York struggled early, and Dallas controlled the tempo. That changed when Dallas rookie Jacori Hayes recieved his second yellow for his second dangerous tackle on Connor Lade in less than ten minutes. Hayes was sent off in the 37th minute. The Red Bulls did break through before halftime, as a great combination from Bradley Wright-Phillips to Sacha Kljestan resulted in a certain Goal of the Week nominee.
FCD head coach Oscar Pareja made key adjustments during the break, and RBNY was under pressure for the majority of the second half. Hernan Grana equalized with his first MLS goal in the 54th minute. Just three minutes later, New York relieved some pressure by going up 2-1 off the head of Aaron Long for his first MLS goal. After more sustained buildup and threatening counterattacks, Dallas earned a penalty kick which was nailed home in the 75th minute by Mauro Diaz to knot things up once again.
This result feels more like a loss than a draw to Red Bulls fans, and will be tough to swallow. Here, we’ll break down just what happened Saturday night, and what needs to be done better.
New York Red Bulls Escape Frisco With a Point: Player Grades
Sacha Kljestan: C
The captain scored a peach of a goal on Saturday, and that is not to be denied. However, number 16’s performance lacked in just about every other area. The success of the team relies on his ability to make passes and distribute the ball all over the field. Inexcusably, Kljestan had the second worst pass accuracy rate of all Red Bulls’ field players at 74 percent.
Additionally, he lost more than double the duels he won on the night (losing ten, winning four)- the worst proportion of any Red Bull. It was an overall sloppy performance from the team, and Kljestan was the most notable offender.
Aaron Long: B-
While it may be harsh to expect so much from a rookie centerback, Long has proved all year that he is more than capable of leading the back line for New York. Saturday serves as a reminder that the 3-6-1/5-4-1 can be vulnerable when countered. In the second half, Pareja’s men compacted defensively, and then devastated the likes of Long and Damien Perrinelle with pace.
When Dallas countered, RBNY was ill-prepared to deal with the speed of Michael Barrios, Maxi Urruti, Mauro Diaz, etc. Out of shape and unorganized, FCD exploited space, and were unlucky not to take all three points despite being down a man. Long failed to slow the attack more times than not. On Grana’s goal, it was Long’s positioning that gave up the space for Grana to run onto.
— dan statile (@dan_statile) September 3, 2017
With three defenders back, they should have been able to halt the attack. Long gravitated towards Barrios and left a huge gap leaving space for an easy goal for Grana. Credit to Long for gaining some redemption by scoring and regaining the lead soon after, but this kind of positioning error was prominent all game.
Tyler Adams: A-
Adams was just as effective in net on Saturday night as goalkeeper Luis Robles. He cleared the ball off the line on multiple occasions, and made up for the mistakes of his defensive counterparts. RBNY was forced to make a shocking total of 23 clearances in the match, many of which thanks to him. On the broadcast, Adams could be seen losing his temper on his teammates for not doing their job. The audacity from the 18-year-old to tear into 33-year-old veteran Damien Perrinelle for losing his mark is an astonishing and rare characteristic.
While it may have been too much at times, it cannot be denied that Adams showed leadership and soccer IQ. He earned this grade by playing his own position, as well as doing the jobs of the others around him when they failed to do so. If the Dallas match is any indication, the future is bright for the Red Bulls, and for U.S. Soccer.