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Grella’s long distance chip scores first road win of the season

Before the season got underway the experts that follow Major League Soccer were already anointing the Columbus Crew as the team to beat and the team that will be the best side in the Eastern Conference for the 2015 season. Adding Kei Kamara was a huge move since allowing Jairo Arrieta to sign with DC United.

But the Red Bulls had a game plan that was put to perfection and they were able to head out on the road at the renamed Mapfre Stadium. In the first 45 minutes it was a decent performance that forced the Red Bulls onto their heals half the time and the Crew tried to exploit the backline and stretch the defense, but a lot of credit to the defense as they kept their shape most of the half.

But as the second half began it looked like the Red Bulls regrouped and brought in their pressure style offense on the Crew and it lead to the first goal of the game in the 48th minute. Bradley Wright-Phillips made a solid pass to Lloyd Sam and it looked like a repeat of the goal scored last week, but this time he was taken out in the area by Emanual Pogatezt and a point to the spot by referee Sorin Stoica.
 Wright-Phillips walks up to the spot and converts inside the far post for the lead in the next minute.

Even though Tony Tchani converted the equalizer off a deflection from the cross in the 58th minute, the Red Bulls decided to make a substitution in the 66th minute that brought Mike Grella into the game and that’s when history was made. After Wright-Phillips was able to force a turnover in the middle of the field, the ball was deflected towards Grella and he saw Steve Clark well off his line and decided to hit a long chip shot & it struck the back of the net for another Red Bulls lead in the next minute.

Not only was this the first goal in MLS for Mike Grella, but for the club it’s self that was the 1,000th goal scored in club history when it started back in 1996 as a charter member of Major League Soccer and were originally known as the NY/NJ MetroStars. The first goal that was scored for the club back in 1996 was by current head coach of the New York Cosmos Giovanni Savarese.

But as it looked like the Red Bulls were going to walk out of Columbus with the full three points they were gifted by an outburst from Federico Higuain as he fouled Sam and when he didn’t like the call, grabbed the ball and punched it down. That outburst gave him a second yellow card and a red that put the Crew down to 10 men in the 83rd minute & the three points.

“I thought we handled the pace of the game really well.” Said Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch, “It was a fast game and they were good at spreading the field, but we were able to stay after them and when we one-balled we were able to find advantages forward. Even in build–up, especially in the second half, we were able to space ourselves a little bit better.”

In their first three games the Red Bulls have scored seven out of a potential nine points and earning four of the seven on the road. It’s still early to tell how this season will figured its self out, but right now the club is playing smart, speedy and putting a lot of pressure on their opponents and doing a good job of it as well. I think the turnaround to supporting Jesse Marsch is starting to come.

Author: Daniel Feuerstein

As Lundqvist returns to action, Cam Talbot deserves your thanks

Congratulations to the New York Rangers for clinching their playoff spot for the 2015 edition of the Stanley Cup playoffs. They played strong the last several months with great defense, some timely goals and climbing the standings from a mediocre start to a fantastic first place position in the Metropolitan division as well as leading the league in points with 101.

But as we start discussing the goaltending for the Rangers we would always discuss how great Henrik Lundqvist is in net and leading the team to some great performances, but ever since he suffered that deflected puck that struck his throat underneath the protector from his mask on January 31st at Madison Square Garden against the Carolina Hurricanes.

So who came in to save the season and helped the Rangers get to where they are? Backup goaltender Cam Talbot who has taken over and played amazing in net, while allowing Lundqvist to take the time to heal up from his vascular vain bruising in his neck and Talbot’s performance has been absolutely amazing.

In 22 games Talbot has recorded a 16-4-2 record and allowed 2 goals or less in thirteen games. His positioning inside the crease has been outstanding & while he was doing a great job, the Rangers goaltending coach Benoit Allaire has made both men play some fantastic goal and while Talbot has signed a one year extension to remain with the team.

But at the same time Talbot can’t play every single game as he needed some rest physically and mentally and stepping in for him in those two games at the Buffalo Sabres was Hartford Wolfpack starting goaltender MacKenzie Skapski and he also got two wins against a scrappy Sabres side that wanted to knock off the Rangers.

But as we get ready to see the King return to his crease on the road at the Boston Bruins we all have to thank Cam Talbot for helping the Rangers earn over 101 points this season and allowing Lundqvist to heal up at the proper pace or else it could’ve been a lot worse. The reports were that if Lundqvist continued to play with this injury, he could’ve suffered a stroke.

But thank goodness for the backups helping out when they need to and to make sure the starter comes back one hundred percent and with nine games to go in the regular season, Lundqvist will need all the minutes he can get.

Author: Daniel Feuerstein

Undefeated Red Bulls ready for Columbus Challenge

At the moment it looks like the start of the season has been a positive for the Red Bulls under the control of Jesse Marsch, a solid road point at Sporting Kansas City and a convincing two goal shutout win against DC United. But as the next challenge comes up for them it will be a road trip to the state capital of Ohio as they face the Columbus Crew.

From what we have seen already from head coach Gregg Berhalter last season, he wants to play a hard attacking style and use his Argentine weapon in Federico Higuain to float around the field and find that perfect spot to strike when he has the ball as well as setting up his teammates if they have the shot.

Someone who has already experience this showdown against Higuain is Red Bulls keeper Luis Robles who’s had his good and bad strings against him whether it’s during the run of play or at the penalty spot. “He’s a talented player and one of the more talented midfielders in the league. So you never really know if he’s going to play that ball over the top or move it forward, tries to chip or what but we understand the challenge that’s in front of us.”

Of course for Robles this will be the third different backline he will have in front of him as Andrew Jean-Baptiste will be playing for Haiti this weekend on the international calendar, but expect to see Matt Miazga back with Damien Perrinelle as the center back tandem and Chris Duvall as the right back. The hope is to sign Anthony Wallace quickly or use home grown player Connor Lade to get the start.

For Dax McCarty this sounds like a game that he is raring to go when you take on a top side in the Eastern Conference. 

“They are a very good team since (Gregg) Berhalter has come in there; he’s changed them a lot. They are a team that really wants to keep the ball and have a lot of possession. They know their system very well and they will present towards us a very big challenge.”

But the real question of course is what does Jesse Marsch think when he pairs wits against Berhalter and what does he think about the game plan for this weekend. 

“They are a good passing team, that will be a big challenge and seeing this game early in the schedule I knew it would be a great challenge for my team. It might come down to a break or two and who takes advantage of them. He’s a very intelligent type of guy and he’s working with how his side wants to do with the ball, but I’m more focused on what we’re doing without the ball and then getting it.”

So while it’s early in the 2015 season it looks like the Red Bulls are up for the challenge on how they will face against a tough Columbus Crew side that is so good at home and hopefully they will try to steal any type of points possible to try and get to first in the east. You don’t want to start to look at the standings early, but as we all know losing points quickly can be a big problem towards the end.

Author: Daniel Feuerstein

Dax McCarty lashes out at MLS Disciplinary Committee

It’s only been two games into the reign of Defensive midfielder Dax McCarty’s Captaincy, but as of right now it feels like he’s held that role for a good long while. You can already see on the field that he got involved very quickly with some nice passes to create several chances and those chances have led to goals.

Once he was named captain of the club when Thierry Henry retired, everyone was excited and their hopes were answered when he got the nod to wear the Captain’s Armband on the field for the club, some got excited when he used his captaincy to express his displeasure on a certain play that happened against his club towards the end of the match.

When the game entered second half stoppage time and with a two goal lead, Alan Kelly blew his whistle and pointed to the spot to give DC United a penalty and an attempt to break the shutout bid for Luis Robles & the Red Bulls. Just as Chris Pontius started to take his jog towards the ball, there was an incident outside the area that showed some concern as Perry Kitchen was lined up next to Red Bulls right back Chris Duvall.

While you didn’t see it live, on replay and from the league’s official website Kitchen decided to stomp very hard on the left foot of Duvall as some form of retribution for the score line being against DC United. All of a sudden on the League’s website the incident was being shown and right away your thinking there will be a quick hearing.

But sadly the Disciplinary Committee already gave their answer as they decided not to charge Kitchen with a fine or a suspension for his stomping on Duvall’s left foot. So Captain Dax decided to go on twitter and informed the league’s disciplinary committee that they were wrong. 

“Interesting Precedent @MLS disciplinary committee is setting. Intentional stamp on opponent is NOT a suspension. Got it. @thesoccerdon. Send my fine on over to Red Bull Arena @MLS”

The truth is that McCarty is correct. Last season when the club brought over Armando from Barcelona’s B squad in the lower levels of Spain he was fined & suspended by the league because of hard tackles or challenges that deemed to be too much. When Mike Petke was informed during games that Armando was being targeted by the on field officials because of his play, it was deemed as overkill because, one of those times Armando wasn’t on the roster.

So now the question comes into play is a simple one. Has the league’s Disciplinary Committee have an agenda against the Red Bulls because it looks like any player from any club whether they are a rival or not have free reign to commit these types of acts on the field against the Red Bulls. You hope that’s not the case, but until the next ugly moment happens we shall see. But for now it looks like the league hasn’t sent a response to McCarty for his twitter outbursts.

Author: Dan Feuerstein

Hate DC Week is successful with a clean sheet

After all the talk about this past offseason with the retirement of Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill leaving for China & the strange dismissal of Mike Petke, the real proof in the pudding would be how the Red Bulls react at home with a new team that didn’t have a superstar or would regress because of that said negative.

From the opening whistle the Red Bulls played strong both defensively and offensively with the ball finding attacking runs and play solid from the backline to the defensive midfielders. But when the biggest question mark is the 27 goal man in Bradley Wright-Phillips pops up to convert, it looks like the answer has come perfectly.

Dax McCarty was in midfield and saw a wide open Wright-Phillips and sent a long ball down the field. The defender tried to take the ball away, but BWP flicked it away and ripped it inside the far post to beat Bill Hamid in the 25th minute for his first of the season.

Lloyd Sam has made it a personal mission to try and get more goals this season and be better on the attack. After converting his first of the season at Kansas City, he earned his second in consecutive games as Felipe tackled the ball away from his man and it went to Wright-Phillips. A quick pass to his right at Sam and with a touch on the ball Sam smacks it short side to beat Hamid for the second time today.

There was a penalty given to DC United late in second half stoppage time as Davy Arnaud looked to have been fouled in the area, but when Chris Pontius took the penalty he skied it wide of the near post and the shutout remained intact for the Red Bulls as they are undefeated in their first two games of their 2015 season.

“I just felt that it was a good performance for our first home game of the season.” Said Head Coach Jesse Marsch, “One of our goals this year was to be strong at home and I felt our guys dictated that today. I thought it was a good result.”

Several changes were made from last game as Roy Miller & Ronald Zubar picked up injuries during training from the last two weeks so coming over to fill in was Matt Miazga as the new center back paring with Damien Perrinelle & at left back was new Jamaican International Kemar Lawrence who did a fantastic job plugging the holes from the injured players.

But one person who wasn’t happy about his team’s performance was DC United Head Coach Ben Olsen. “It’s a bulls---t first half from us. I don’t know what we think we’ve earned or what gives us the right to step on the field in the first half with that type of mentality, but that will change, I know that.”

So after another solid ninety minutes from the Red Bulls and earning their first win of the season, it looks like things might be a little bit better. But as the first two games of the season have been played, there is still plenty of work to do to make sure this chemistry is refined and solid.

Author: Dan Feuerstein

Jesse Marsch’s Red Bulls are ready for DC

It’s a new season and once again it’s a different feeling when you go from a club legend from Mike Petke to new head coach Jesse Marsch, but once again it never gets old when you play a home game or when it’s the home opener against one of your most hated rivals since this league was created back in 1996.

That’s right everyone, it’s Hate DC week and when you go on social media and see all the Memes, photo shops and the different tools being used to show how much Red Bulls supporters are showing their epic disgust against the team that lives in our Nation’s Capital and after a stellar aggregate playoff first victory over DC United.

Dax McCarty who has taken over the Captaincy from the retired Thierry Henry discusses why it’s important and from his perspective. “I think we have been preparing like we have all week for it & there is more incentive for us whenever we play at home, and expect to win.” Said McCarty “Our fans expect us and we expect us to win this game, it’s massive for us this first home game and we need to set the tone.”

Of course we all remember that big playoff win against DC United as the boy won the 1st leg of their Eastern Conference Semi-Final scoring two goals and not allowing a road goal, while at RFK Stadium in the 2nd leg the magic of Thierry Henry came true as he crossed a nice ball from the far side to the middle and putting a knee on it was Peguy Luyindula who is currently mulling over retirement.

But for new head coach Jesse Marsch, this will be his first time experiencing the rivalry as a head coach “Yeah, well I experienced nineteen years ago the playoff shootout at Giants stadium when Peter Vermes won it limping towards the net and scoring the winner at Giants Stadium. I’ve known the energy that is always there between NY Vs. DC & I am excited for the opportunity to experience this first hand.”

Asking if he knows what Ben Olsen is going to throw at him on Sunday and he put it plainly to this. “Ben’s team is a reflection of Ben. He’s a competitor and a worker and his team is like that. They will always compete at the highest level and I told the guys to play at that level.”

This should be another great match up in the history of these two original MLS sides that go all the way back to 1996 when you saw the MetroStars and DC United begin their animosity towards each other and the emotions flair up when Giovanni Savarese started to get upset towards Marco Etcheverry. It should be a fantastic Sunday for the home opener at Red Bull Arena.

Daniel Feuerstein

Darrelle Revis comes home for good

After trading him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two draft picks that was Sheldon Richardson & Dee Milliner and a Super Bowl Championship this past season with the New England Patriots, The man who owns an island where Wide Receivers can’t get off of Darrelle Revis comes back to the New York Jets and all parties are excited.

The deal that was made keeps Revis for five years and $70 Million dollars with $39 Million guaranteed. The way that free agency has started for the Jets it looks like new GM Mike MacCagnan and new head coach Todd Bowles are not messing around as they want to put a solid stamp in their first season running the New York Jets on and off the field.

The trade for Brandon Marshall signaled the start of this era as they sent the Chicago Bears a 5th round pick in this year’s draft and signing blocking guard James Carpenter for four years and $4 Million from the Seahawks and keeping both David Harris & Bilal Powell from leaving the team.
But as we all know the wonderful things that Revis has done with the Jets, we can’t forget the times he’s done something against the Jets and that was holding out for two new contracts while under an existing one as he wanted to be paid as the top cornerback in the NFL. Yet Woody Johnson did honor Revis wishes and restructured his contract and he continued to play well for the Jets.

But this time around it looks like Revis is a happy man coming back to the team he was drafted and will spend the majority of his career with the last two seasons away as a member of Gang Green and once his career comes to an end, it wouldn’t surprise me that his name will join the many that has been added to the ring of honor of the New York Jets right away.

It’s a happy day for Jets fans as one of their best players is coming back and not only has everyone celebrated by either purchasing a new Jets Revis jersey, but there are those like myself who never burned their old Revis Jerseys took them out of the closet and putting it back on like it’s been an old coat they love wearing all winter long.

Author: >Daniel Feuerstein

Lloyd Sam’s Equalizer takes a point away from 10 man Sporting KC

After all the tension and the worries about the 2015 season not starting on time in the 20th season of Major League Soccer, the players union and the league struck a deal early Wednesday evening to begin play and the season opener went off without a hitch at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas for the Red Bulls.

Both goals in this match took place in the second half about four minutes apart as the home side took advantage of stretching out the backline of New York as Dom Dwyer was along the near side of the field and crossed a great ball to the middle and on the head of Ike Opara who glided in and a leaping header beats Luis Robles in the 50th minute.

But four minutes later the Red Bulls would start a solid attacking run as they would equalize four minutes later. Dax McCarty would start to bring the ball up and a quick pass to Felipe Martins to advance the ball, Martins quickly gave a hard pass to Lloyd Sam who moved from the right side of the field and attacked centrally. He would get to the top of the Kansas City area, faked out his defender and shot it that bent inside the far post to take home the road point.

In the 70th minute Matt Besler who was playing with a yellow card he earned in the first half was given his marching orders as he intentionally took out Bradley Wright-Phillips during an attack run that should’ve been given advantage, but unfortunately Referee Baldomero Toledo decided to stop play and do his deed to put Sporting Kansas City down to 10 men.

After a solid match to start the season the Red Bulls take a point home and will wait two weeks to play their home opener against hated rivals DC United. But while this was a solid performance, there are a few things that need to be addressed. Nothing to shocking but from what I saw in this game, Mike Grella needs to be a bit quicker mentally with the ball. Too many times he held the ball far too long and put himself into corner or two defenders quickly got to him and stripped the ball.

Lloyd Sam rarely got the ball going down the right flank. Not a lot of passes to allow him to make those solid attacking runs and when he did score, he forced himself to move from the right to a central position to score that goal. Corners were a bit flat and sometimes the player’s touches failed them to control the ball better.

But all those things are correctable and once again it’s only the first game of the season as this was one down and thirty-three to go. But at the moment I like what head coach Jesse Marsch has done by making them play at a quicker pace and possibly make their attacking runs more dangerous, but once again it’s only the first game of the season.

Author: Daniel Feuerstein

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