It was one of the most anticipated matches for RBNY fans; the Red Bulls were set to face rivals, D.C United.
The game carried more than a simple rivalry; it was also the first meeting between Dax McCarty and Dwayne De Rosario since the trade that occurred two weeks ago. Fans, even those who are not sold on McCarty yet, wanted to see him perform in this match, and clarify why he is indeed the better choice for RBNY.
Coach Hans Backe stuck to his favorite formation and lineup; a simple 4-4-2, with Greg Sutton guarding the goal.
A familiar and trusted back four; Jan Gunnar Solli, Carlos Mendes, Tim Ream and Roy Miller.
Midfield comprised of Dane Richards, Dax McCarty, Joel Lindpere and Medhi Ballouchy, who had to fill Teemo Tainio’s shoes. As for the forwards, the duo of Thierry Henry and Luke Rodgers would be in charge of finding the net for RBNY.
The last time D.C and RBNY met was on April 21st at RFK stadium, where RBNY ran circles around the United boys, and easily defeating them 4-0. Fans were hopeful that after Wednesday night’s 5-0 defeat over Toronto, another thrashing was in store.
The first half saw RBNY with absolute control and possession, with the ball never quite making it past midfield.
Sutton left with nothing to do, as RBNY kept pushing forward. Attacking from all sides and angles; Lindpere, Henry, Rodgers and Ballouchy all endlessly were trying to find the net, but to no avail.
The first half seemed to shine light on the fact that Henry and Rodgers just could not find each other, not the way that fans have witnessed the chemistry between the two; all shots too long, too short, too wide. Never quite right.
This match may not have been the better offensive attempt by the Red Bulls, but defensively there was only one name on everybody’s lips; Tim Ream.
In the 22nd minute, Sutton had stumbled to the floor, scurrying to find the ball; Ream was right behind him and had already cleared the ball. Again in the 33rd, he cleared Andy Najar’s ball.
Undoubtedly, his greatest save of the night was in the 42nd minute, when Charlie Davies had created a breakaway, and even passed Sutton, Ream ran to the box and managed to save it in the same style as was seen in the match against LA Galaxy.
The second half saw an energized squad emerge from the locker room, and for the first fifteen minutes in the second half, most fans found themselves hoping that we could find the net.
However, Dwayne De Rosario, who had played with an intense passion all evening, found the ball in the 61st and seemingly ran circles around the RBNY defense, and found himself in front of an open net, which brought great pleasure to the approximate 250 D.C United fans that made the trip.
Absolute irony that De Ro would score against his former teammates.
Backe immediately brought on Agudelo for Ballouchy, in hopes that Juan would find the net, as he did on Wednesday, scoring two goals against Toronto.
It just did not seem to be the night for RBNY; a team that looked fatigued, and defeated.
As for the defensive midfield lacking in their game this evening, many believe that the missing element was Teemo Tainio. The McCarty-Tainio combination is a lethal one, and certainly one that was missed by RBNY during this match.
Coach Backe stated that RBNY was lacking defensively, giving away chances too easily. “Even with fatigue, there are no excuses. Even when you don’t have your best day, it should still be 0-0”. Furthermore, he stated that the last 6 to 7 weeks have been inconsistent, and found it boggling; “We have the players, we just cannot get drawn into a physical game.”
The Red Bulls may have won the Atlantic Cup, yet it pales in comparison to losing against one of the biggest rivals, and to do so at home, is even worse. RBNY is still atop the Eastern Conference tied with Philadelphia Union, both with 28 points, followed by Columbus Crew who is merely one point behind.
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