Red Bulls Drop Two-Points With Late Collapse
It was a warm sunny day at Red Bull Arena for the final Atlantic Cup clash of 2016. The New York Red Bulls, unbeaten in their last 10, entered the game without their first choice wingers thanks to yellow card accumulation. Mike Grella and Alex Muyl each picked up cards in Vancouver and would miss the match. D.C. United let the lead slip away late to New York City FC in their last match 3-2. The prospect of dropping two vital games down the stretch with the playoffs looming and the rivalry matchup made for a tantalizing match.
Dax McCarty also missed the clash of rivals with a groin injury, his second injury of the summer. Daniel Royer and Gonzalo Veron earned starts for NY in place of the aforementioned suspended wingers. It was Royer’s first start since joining the team over the summer. Veron’s troubled season may have culminated on today’s performance, which was largely promising.
Veron opened the scoring in the 35th minute with some hard work lurking at the goalmouth. Sacha Kljestan drove into the box to the endline before cutting it back. The ball bounced around the box eventually finding Veron’s head for an easy finish. For Veron, it was his third goal of the season in just over 600 minutes of play.
Royer also had a good first half, showing good ability to hold the up the ball, and drawing 4 fouls. His movement off the ball opened up space for his teammates and proved to be vital to a large string of possession to finish the half. Kljestan nearly added to the scoring in time added on with a shot that struck the post. The only real concern for the Red Bulls at halftime was Ronald Zubar’s hamstring injury. The oft injured Zubar joined the growing ranks of injuries for RB which now included Omer Damari. And Dax McCarty.
The second half was a mixed bag for NY. In the 54th minute, the Red Bulls doubled the lead on a D.C. turnover. Daniel Royer intercepted a poorly played square ball in NY’s half. Royer carried the ball forward and found Bradley Wright-Phillips streaking into the box. His blast beat Bill Hamid to go up two goals against United for the second time in two matches. Wright-Phillips now leads the league with 18 goals this year.
D.C. would climb back into the match as they had in the previous match as well. Over the course of six minutes, the Red Bulls surrendered the lead with two scrums in the 18 yard box. The first came in the 89th minute scored by Steve Birnbaum. The equalizer was score by Lamar Neagle in the 95th minute. Neagle had the last touch on a corner that was kept alive by Bill Hamid after he had come forward for the last push for United. Hamid had a stellar day, denying a number of good opportunities from the Red Bulls that would have iced the game.
Jesse Marsch remained upbeat despite the tough result at home. I’m still very ‘glass half full’. This is a good team. I know what I’m looking at. The frustration of giving some late leads away, we’ll continue to reinforce certain things with the mentality, look tactically at what we do, personnel choices, the whole bit. But this is a good team. We’re making it hard on ourselves and we’re going to get there the hard way, but we’re going to get to where we need to go. We’re going to get there.”
Next week, NY will head north to face Toronto FC with first place in the eastern conference on the line. TFC and NY have split games this year in Harrison, though NY has historically had trouble earning three points on the road in Canada. Will the Red Bulls defy early season struggles to take the lead heading into the final stretch of the season? Time will tell.