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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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