It was the first home game for the New York Red Bulls in a month, with their last six games all ending in ties or losses, with the exception of coming out victorious in the Emirates Cup.
The fans were anxious for a win, and one that seemed sure against last placed Chicago Fire. 25, 177 tickets were sold for this match, and the energy amongst the fans could only be described as intense.
The match would also be the first for newly acquired Stephane Auvray, and a surprise selection by Coach Hans Backe in the net, with GK Chris Konopko stepping in due to Rost’s injury and Coundoul’s late return from Senegal.
As the teams stepped on the pitch, there seemed to be an energy within the team; an energy that has been lacking for the last two months. Perhaps they came to realize that it is make or break time, with merely nine games left, and other teams nipping at their heels.
Backe chose a 4-5-1 formation with Henry at the top, and Agudelo on the bench. Many fans were expecting Henry and Agudelo paired together at the top, but Backe always finds ways to make fans question his tactics.
Midfield saw the combination of Richards, Ballouchy, Lindpere and the lethal duo of McCarty and Tainio. While the defensive four consisted of Miller, Ream, Marquez and Albright.
The first five minutes saw a team hungry for a win, a team that had an attitude that made everyone believe that they might leave the Red Bull Arena with three points in the bag. Henry brought relief by finding the net in the 8th minute, assisted by Richards and McCarty. RBNY was in the lead, but could they hold onto it?
Statistically, the team that scores first is usually the team that wins.
However, RBNY’s lead would only last for seven minutes, and in the 16th minute the Fire equalized with Dominic Oduro managing to break through the defensive skills of Konopko, and another eight minutes later, Sebastian Grazzini found another hole in RBNY’s defensive back four, putting the Fire up by a goal at halftime.
As the second half started, the energy that was present in the first half seemed to have faded, with the game becoming more physical, and players clearly getting frustrated with the amount of chances created and no goals to show for it.
Backe waited until the 60th minute before bringing on Auvray and Agudelo, and taking off Ballouchy and McCarty; who seemed to be unable in finding his chemistry with Tainio during this match.
Auvray’s first touch of the ball may have seemed overzealous, but it was the hunger behind that touch that made it so beautiful, and it was certainly not far from finding the net.
It would be Lindpere who would find the equalizing goal in the 63rd minute, with an assist from Richards. It would be his sixth goal for the season, and a dramatic one.
During the build-up to the goal, the Fire anticipated a foul being called, one which the referee chose to ignore, and following Lindpere’s goal; he was seen storming toward the referee cursing, out of sheer frustration. It earned him a yellow card for dissent, but RBNY had equalized.
The last third of the match saw a lot of back and forth; a good amount of long balls, fancy footwork and no finishes. Final score would be 2-2. A fourth tie for RBNY in their last seven matches.
Backe was content with the performance; “It was a step in the right direction comparing it to the last two months. They had a great attitude, and I am very pleased with the attacking skills they showed tonight.”
For Backe and the boys it was most important to see that they would be able to bounce back, and they showed just that.
Auvray, who had no training sessions with the team and merely arrived in New York the day before the match said that he was happy with his move to RBNY, where he would be able to play.
He found the welcome from the fans overwhelming, and hoped that he would be able to play to a standard that they consider satisfactory.
Agudelo, who only played the last third of the match, believed that the biggest mistake lies in the fact that the team tries to cross the ball too much, instead of simply going directly towards the goal.
RBNY is set to face anticipated and favored MLS-Cup contenders; LA Galaxy, FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake within the next few weeks.
That being said, does a tie against last place Chicago Fire truly reflect this “restart” that Backe kept referring to, and will it be enough against these teams who have already established themselves at the top of the Western Conference?
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