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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Red Bulls Trounce DC United to win Atlantic Cup


Yes it was a tough loss at Chicago when the club had that mid-week match, but let's also remember that they had another game this weekend and once again it was Hate DC Week and once again Ben Olsen's boys were coming in to try and extended their lead in the Eastern Conference, but sadly once again for DC United the Red Bulls get another three points at Red Bull Arena and earned another clean sheet victory this time it was three goals to nil. 

From the start of the match you could see the desire and fire from the team in red and white as they pounced on DC and were allowed to attack straight down broadway as the DC backline parted like the Red Sea and the only one who was able to make most of the stops was keeper Bill Hamid, but sadly for him it wasn't enough as the Red Bulls were able to convert on timely goals and put this match to bed. 

Lloyd Sam continued his hot streak on DC as he was given a great ball from Bradley Wright-Phillips and streaked down the near side. When Hamid came out to slide tackle the ball away, Sam was able to shoot it over Hamid's right leg and tucked it inside the far post. That goal got started on another bad giveaway by DC in the midfield like the last one in the home opener & Sam was able to cash it in. 

But Bradley Wright-Phillips once again got another brace this time against DC United and was adding his goal totals from 11 to 13. In the 42nd minute it was a fantastic looping cross from Felipe who finds Mike Grella streaking down the middle and when he got to the ball, made a quick blind cross to BWP and ripped an upper 90 shot inside the near corner for the two goal lead. 

His second on the night was a fantastic pass from Sacha Kljestan as BWP was on side and attacking down the far side of the field. DC United tried to play the offside trap and sadly it didn't work as Bradley forced Hamid to come off his line and then punished DC United for his second of the night and giving the club a three goal clean sheet victory. The Red Bulls are now just two points behind Eastern Conference leaders and still with three games in hand. 

For the Red Bulls this is their fourth consecutive Clean Sheet victory over DC United at Red Bull Arena that also includes last years first leg victory in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Eight goals in total that also counts towards the end of last season, at the same time this club has shown to get up for big games when they take on their big rivals up and down the I-95 corridor whether it's New England, Philadelphia, or that short trip across the Hudson River against NYCFC in the Bronx.
  
Jesse Marsch has pushed the right buttons and he has everyone believing in what he is trying to preach as well as accomplish some major goals for the club. As of right now they are nipping at DC United's heels and with nine matches to go there could be a strong possibility that the Red Bulls could leapfrog over that team in Black. 

Once again another break but for the international calendar and then another date with the Chicago Fire at Red Bull Arena as the club is looking for a little bit of revenge when they were at Toyota Park this past Wednesday night.
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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Toyota Park Jinx continues as Red Bulls Fall to the Fire

Photo by Uponor

This visit to Bridgeview, Illinois was suppose to be different because of where these two sides are sitting in the Eastern Conference Standings. This visit to Toyota Park was suppose to be a game where the Red Bulls needed to take care of business against a Chicago Fire side that has played poorly and always seems to fall flat late in matches, but whenever the Red Bulls visit the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park these types of moments never happen at all.

Coming into the Fire Station the Red Bulls are a whopping 0-8-5 in thirteen visits with only five points, with a big week right in front of them they needed to get at least a solid performance and a big three points to get even closer to DC United and while they got a clear penalty inside the first ten minutes of the match and converted by Sacha Kljestan, that's where it all went wrong.

The next thirty-five minutes went horribly wrong as the Red Bulls somehow found a way to get broken down and allowed the Fire to do damage once again by converting twice and taking a two goals to one lead into halftime. Kennedy Igboananike was allowed to get into space and got a good ball to position himself to score and did so beating Luis Robles with ease in the 22nd minute.

Then it was Patrick Nyarko who was inside the top of the area and allowed to create a turnaround shot and beat Robles inside the near post in the 41st minute to take the lead. In both goals the back line was in complete shambles allowing the Fire to get into space and taking advantage of the Red Bulls poor defensive positioning. It went horribly wrong and Jesse Marsch had to rally the troops inside the locker room.

It seemed like that did happen in the 49th minute as the Red Bulls earned a corner and tried some trickery to get their equalizer in the match. Lloyd Sam put the ball inside the far corner and toe tapped it twice to signal that the ball is in play and Kljestan went to take the corner. But instead of actually crossing the ball into the area he asked the assistant referee on the near side (Bench side)
if it was o.k. to dribble the ball to the area and the assistant nodded yes. Kljestan brought the ball from the corner and when he was close enough made the cross and found Ronald Zubar for his first of the season and second in all competitions.

But that equalizer never stood as the Fire once again took advantage of a lack luster Red Bulls backline as Igboananike was able to slip into the defense and scored his second of the match beating Robles once again and this time inside the far post in the 73rd minute to give the Fire the 3-2 victory and to give them life for a possible playoff push.

But going back to the Zubar goal, there seems to be an issue of how it was taken by the Red Bulls. during the broadcast on MSG Network Steve Cangelosi and Shep Messing were being informed by the PRO Referee division of MLS that the goal that was scored might have been an mistake. Law 17 in the Corner Kick section and especially in 13.5 called ball in play the context reads this way 

(The ball is in play (able to be played by an attacker other than the kicker or by an opponent) when it has been kicked and moved. The distance to be moved is minimal and the “kick” need only be a touch of the ball with the foot in a kicking motion. Simply tapping the top of the ball with the foot or stepping on the ball are not sufficient.

When the restart of play is based on the ball being kicked and moved, the referee must ensure that the ball is indeed kicked (touched with the foot in a kicking motion) and moved (caused to go from one place to another). Being “kicked” does not include an action in which the ball is dragged by continuous contact with the foot. Being “moved” does not include the ball simply quivering, trembling, or shaking as a result of light contact. The referee must make the final decision on what is and is not “kicked and moved” based on the spirit and flow of the match. In all events, the ball must be put into play properly.

The referee must judge carefully whether any particular kick of the ball and subsequent movement was indeed reasonably taken with the intention of putting the ball into play rather than with the intention merely to position the ball for the restart. If the ball is just being repositioned (even if the foot is used to do this), play has not been restarted. Likewise, referees should not unfairly punish for “failing to respect the required distance” when an opponent was clearly confused by a touch and movement of the ball which was not a restart.

The referee must make the final decision on what is a “kick” and what is “not a kick” based on his or her feeling for the game-what FIFA calls “Fingerspitzengefuehl” (literally: “sensing with one’s fingertips”). The bottom line is that not everything that produces movement of the ball is a kick and thus would not legally put the ball into play in any of the kicking restarts.)

So does this constitute as a true goal or not? Well we do see Lloyd Sam touching the ball twice with his foot and the ball does move around twice and also informing the A.R. about what the Red Bulls were going to do, so in my view this should be a legal goal and allowed. Both Shep Messing of MSG & Kevin Egan of Comcast Sportsnet Chicago have both claimed this is a good goal. But we shall see what PRO says if there is a write up on the official MLS website.

But while no one can really complain about the Red Bulls going 7-2-1 in their last ten including this match, the truth is that the Red Bulls are now 0-9-5 at Toyota Park and while some might call it a trap game, to be honest it wasn't. This performance by the Red Bulls went up and down and even if they did get a point out of it, you don't know if it was well deserved or not. But the truth is this is that the jinx continues for the Red Bulls and now have to face DC United in another big match up where they need to get closer to the top of the East and they need to get this ugly feeling out of their systems a.s.a.p.
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Monday, August 24, 2015

Red Bulls will try to Break the Toyota Park Jinx



And once again we reach a point in the Red Bulls schedule to see who their next opponent will be and whether they are at Red Bull Arena or on the road. And as a fan of this side you know that club schedule like the back of your hand going up and down the line, as you do it's either going to be a fun tie or it could be filled with dread.
  
That means it's time to play the Chicago Fire and that also means it's the road trip to Toyota Park where the Red Bulls have never won a game since it opened for business on June 11th 2006. But maybe this matchup could be the one where this jinx ends, maybe this time around this long winless streak could be over because for Dax McCarty this whole jinx has been a big question mark for the club. 

"Yeah we'll talk about it. I don't know what it is to be honest, Chicago is one of those teams that get's up to play us and always have. It's an important game and for some reason it's never easy for us." 

But in all seriousness this Chicago Fire team has been downright awful. There seems to be a an issue within the team and in all honesty there is never a dull moment for those who have been supporting the Fire that are upset with either the coach in Frank Yallop or the owner Andrew Hauptman as you heard on my show by Ryan Sealock that it sounds like there is a great disconnect with the fans. 

But at the moment this team that has some talented players are not playing on the same page and maybe with all the turmoil that has been going on seeing players like Jeff Larentowicz, Sean Johnson, Mike Magee and Harry Shipp not performing well or suffering through injury can also attend on what is not going well for this side. 

But whenever they take on the Fire in the Chicago/Bridgeview area, you can throw everything out the window when these two sides are going at it with each other. 

"They are strong at home, they do well at home." Said Lloyd Sam, "Everytime I go there it's a tough game, they don't make it easy on you. I know they changed a lot of players but you know that at their home it's going to be a tough game." 

When you look at the standings right now for the Red Bulls, this is a great opportunity they have right in front of them as they can plan a takeover of first place in the Eastern Conference. While the Red Bulls face the Fire in league action, DC United who is currently on top is at home in CONCACAF Champions League Action and three points are on the line that could knock the deficit by two. 

If that happens it can be a tasty Sunday evening at Red Bull Arena when DC United comes over and a possible leapfrog can take place after ninety minutes. But as of right now all concentration for the club is on this Wednesday night on the road at Toyota Park as part one needs to be done, before we can discuss part two of this plan.
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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Red Bulls go six games unbeaten defeating Toronto FC





There was a fear of a let down in this match after taking out NYCFC last match at Red Bull Arena. When you take on your new rivals who claim to be the true team in this city and get the sweep of the series, you have to try and refocus your efforts on the next one and that next one was Toronto FC who is on a roll with the great Sebastian Giovinco, along with US Internationals Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley. 

But instead of a let down it was another fantastic performance from the Red Bulls who kept on going with a 3-0 win and going unbeaten in six straight matches. It looks like Bradley Wright-Phillips is starting to truly heat up with his 11th of the season as he worked with Mike Grella to convert the opening goal. It came in the 27th minute when Felipe finds Mike Grella who quickly lost it on the turn, but found a way to keep it and slipped a quick pass to Wright-Phillips who beat keeper Joe Bendik for the early lead. 

After taking that lead into halftime the Red Bulls continued to press and press against Toronto FC and this time it took the bench players to take a rip on frame and once again it would be the Brooklyn Born Anthony Wallace that converts for his 2nd career goal. All Sacha Kljestan did was laid off the ball for Wallace and in the 65th minute took a touch and smacked the ball that dipped and goes past Bendik for the two goal lead. 

Gonzalo Veron was able to convert his first in MLS with a blocked shot that bounced towards him and scored to make it three goals to nil and then the final whistle blew as the Red Bulls not only remain in 2nd place but are now five points behind Eastern Conference leaders DC United who took a bad loss against NYCFC at Yankee Stadium this past Thursday night. 

But the real stories of the night are two things. First it was the makeshift backline of fullbacks Anthony Wallace & Connor Lade along with Matt Miazga and fill in Karl Ouimette who did a fantastic job shutting down & frustrating Giovinco, Altidore & Bradley. Every single time Giovinco had the ball he was being tracked very tightly from these four guys no matter where on the field he was on. 

While at times it looked Giovinco was able to spring himself and attacked once he got close to or inside the Red Bulls area, the backline would take the ball off his foot and clear it and you could see the frustration by the Italian. Jesse Marsch was very pleased by his backline who had Damien Perrinelle suspended. "We showed a lot of video on Giovinco, talked about he was a major percentage." Said Jesse Marsch, "A big part of the job tonight was to take care of him. Our backs stood him up and we also knew that he and Jozy (Altidore) was always going to be dangerous, but our guys did a great job in preventing him from scoring and frustrating him all night." 

Of course the other moment of the night was goalkeeper Luis Robles who earned second consecutive clean sheet after blanking NYCFC he gets a three goal clean sheet on Toronto FC and that puts him at the top of the clean sheet record with 25 passing Tony Meola who was honored by the Red Bulls before the last game a week ago. "I think it's pretty cool, because I looked up to Tony (Meola) when I was a kid. He was such an Icon during that 1994 World cup team and of course playing for the MetroStars then the Red Bulls & he's still apart of this area. He's been involved in my career here at Red Bull and it's such an honor to be with him when I can get a chance to chat." 

So the dog days of summer are about to close up shop soon as the boys will get a week and a half off before their big road trip at the Chicago Fire on August 26th and then a big home tilt against DC United on August 30th as that date could be the big match up to see if the Red Bulls can leapfrog DC for first in the East.
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Friday, August 14, 2015

Todd Bowles finally gets his first Pre-Season Game





After all the issues the Jets have had off the field with Sheldon Richardson and IK Enemkpali's sucker punch breaking Geno Smith's jaw in two places. New head coach Todd Bowles finally got his first Pre-Season game under his belt with a 23-3 loss at Ford Field against the Detroit Lions.

There were some good moments from the Jets in this first pre-season game, but on the opening drive the starters on defense allowed the Lions to march down the field and Golden Tate was able to score a 35 yard grab and run into the end zone for the touchdown.

While the Lions look to be a solid playoff team this season, the Jets had some decent moments with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB in their opening drive as he marched the team down the field, but ended with the only score of the game as Nick Folk converted a 34yd field goal. But there was a moment in the game where Bowles had a 4th & 1 call and decided to go for it and converted it with a 4yd run by Chris Ivory.

But the real questions are going to come on depth as well as can this defense that looks stacked and nasty handle the four game loss and possibly more as Richardson will be missing in  action on his suspension and what could happen on his arrest that he kept quiet on.

Yes this is the first pre-season game for Bowles and his team, but what I saw on the sidelines is a man that has so far looked comfortable wearing the headset as the main man for the first time in his career. We shall see what will happen at the start of the regular season, but right now Bowles looks to be calm, cool & collected.
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Red Bulls prepare for Giovinco & Toronto FC




Has everyone enjoyed that victory against NYCFC? Has everyone finally gotten their party mode out of their system? I hope so because the next match is coming very quickly for the New York Red Bulls as they have to face another tough opponent on their schedule in Toronto FC. 

Don't let their record fool you because everytime you go to the MLS website, you are seeing some highlight goals from this team when Giovinco is the star attraction. Yes Jozy Altidore is having his struggles and Michael Bradley has played well at times, but the truth right now is that Giovinco is the star of the show up in Toronto. 

In 22 matches played Sebastian Giovinco has scored 16 times and all of his goals including the penalties he has taken are highlight reel stuff that you can't believe he's converting and why not, some of his stuff is absolutely electric & you have to say a great find for Toronto FC in the past Winter Transfer Window. 

"He's been very important, probably one of the best if not the best player in the league" Said Dax McCarty, "He provides 80% of their goals he's by far the most dangerous player in the league and what they do going forward. It's a huge challenge for us and we know he's going to be a big threat." 

While it is true that Toronto FC has US International Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore on their squad, as of right now it looks like Giovinco is a one man wrecking crew for Toronto FC as they are tied for 4th place with the New England Revolution. Jesse Marsch also knows what Giovinco can do on the field. "One of the things that is amazing is how productive he is with so many few touches he has in the game. It's not about quantity when it's all about quality it's a full package of danger when you play him and you can't go 1V1 against him." 

So as you can see the Red Bulls needed to recover quickly after sweeping the first ever Hudson River Rivalry against NYCFC and take on a dangerous and upcoming side in Toronto FC as they need to continue to score goals and stay ahead of this dangerous side. Mike Grella who has been having a solid season going down the left side of the field as their attack has been converting. 

"We have to play our game and implement the stuff we need to get forward and be dangerous ourselves. We have to keep an eye on Giovinco, but we still need to get ourselves going and make sure we don't allow any chances for Toronto. Just keep going with the high pressure, getting balls in the box and just play our game when we have the ball." 

As of right now the Red Bulls are unbeaten in these past five games and a big test has come to Red Bull Arena in Sebastian Giovinco and Toronto FC as another three points are on the line, but they will be without the services of Damien Perrinelle as he was suspended by the MLS Disciplinary committee for two games throwing a punch at NYCFC's Jefferson Mena's face.
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Sunday, August 9, 2015

Red Bulls Get the Brooms on NYCFC



Once again it was another heated night at Red Bull Arena for the second visit and final match of this series as the New York Red Bulls were facing NYCFC and this time the cavalry finally came as former Juventus hero Andrea Pirlo & former Chelsea Hero Frank Lampard suited up to join David Villa as these veterans of European football got together and tried to take on the Red Bulls and salvage any form of points to take back to the Bronx. 

But after the full ninety minutes the result was the same as the NY Originals found a way to convert twice and take nine points out of nine with a two goals to nil win and a clean sweep of the series. The start was actually very strong for both sides in this match and it looked like the side in black was going to get a chance to score first, but it was for naught as the home side converted the first goal of the match. 

In the 21st minute the Red Bulls attacked the near side and after a bit of a misshit of a pass by Mike Grella, Sacha Kljestan swooped in and sprung Kemar Lawrence down the right flank. As he got close towards the area, he bent the ball towards the middle and while Jefferson Mena tried to stop the ball, he mistimes it and it was an easy tap in for Bradley Wright-Phillips for his 10th of the season and it was his fourth goal in three matches against NYCFC. 

The second goal came in the 85th minute and it was a very bad goal to allow as Felipe earned his second of the season sneaking in a shot inside the near post as Josh Saunders made a step to his left and got beat short side. It was a fantastic run by Mike Grella going down the field and making those magic feet work by faking out his defender, when he got to the middle of the field it was a quick pass to Felipe and then the final nail in the coffin was converted. 

After the first 10 minutes of each half NYCFC looked to be gassed and lethargic on their attacks and their defending. As you can see after one match both Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard didn't look strong and David Villa was the only one creating some chances on the front foot. While Mix Diskerud attacked a lot better in this match his finishing was poor and there is no excuse for it. 

The one that looks like the pressure is truly on himself is manager Jason Kreis who looks to be getting scared and annoyed with what's been going on in these three games. Kreis is not looking confident and tried to stir up his side by saying a few days ago that the Red Bulls post game comments at Yankee Stadium were crass and not professional. Being inside that visiting locker room I can say for sure that was not the case. 

Kreis at the moment is feeling what some players and coaches are feeling when games don't go your way and he is saying things that make absolutely no sense at all. If he thought this was going to be a cakewalk, sadly Kreis was mistaken and right now he is paying the price for his own arrogance by assuming he can dominate this town results wise.
  
But for the Red Bulls they can get a big broom and sweep this series into their back pockets along with the US Open Cup 4th Round win at Red Bull Arena as they are the kings of this city in the soccer world of this melting pot called New York City. For the entire year of 2015 New York is Red and it's feeling very good.
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