June 24, 2012
SHOWING BOTH SIDES
Red Bulls combine attacking soccer with some gutsy play in the win
By Kristian R. Dyer
|Conor Lade: “I think you need to embrace both sides, you can’t always expect to play once certain way. You have to adjust and adapt to every situation and what the game plays out like."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
BigAppleSoccer.com Contributing Editor
HARRISON, N.J. – On Thursday following training, midfielder Dax McCarty talked about the Red Bulls late April loss at RFK Stadium and called it a “turning point” of their season. After that 4-1 drubbing on the road, New York went on to take 16 points from their next six games and turn their season around.
Now, a little more than two months after that road loss to D.C. United, the Red Bulls exacted some revenge with a 3-2 win that showed both sides to this team. There was the freeflowing, attacking New York that can play some of the most beautiful soccer in MLS. There was also the gutsy, desperate side that will fight tooth and nail for a win. The victory gave the Red Bulls a share of first place in the Eastern Conference and got New York back on the winning track in league play for the first time in four matches.
Whatever it took, the Red Bulls weren’t going to lose this match.
“We said at halftime let’s try to get full 90 minutes now and keep going like this,” coach Hans Backe said. “The first 65 is the best we’ve been playing.”
From the onset, the match was filled with intensity.
Even with the Red Bulls going down early, conceding a first minute goal to D.C., the Red Bulls didn’t hang their head. They pushed forward in numbers to grab Brandon Barklage goals in the 20th minute and then again first half stoppage time and then iced the game in the 55th minute when Jan Gunnar Solli scored his first MLS goal. The last 25 minutes of the game, New York settled back and played the counterattack as United pushed for two goals to equalize, abandoning their attacking style to hold onto the three points.
“I think you need to embrace both sides, you can’t always expect to play once certain way. You have to adjust and adapt to every situation and what the game plays out like,” left midfielder Connor Lade said.
“I think we’ve done that throughout the year and tonight we showed that side. You can’t always play beautifully, sometimes you have to gut it out and tonight we did it both ways.”
Rarely has this team found that balance in a game but they certainly did so on Sunday night.
The Red Bulls dominated possession in the first half, holding the ball 62 percent of the time and stringing together passes at will. The rough and tumble second half (the Red Bulls had five second half fouls and two yellow cards in the final 45 minutes) was perhaps vindication that Backe’s team has enough flair to dominate games and enough fire to gut out a win.
Backe went so far as to say this is the best he’s seen this team play in what is now his third year with the club. The Red Bulls ended the game bunkering in but still managed 53 percent possession en route to 19 shots and nine shots on goal.
In other words, it was the perfect blend for three points.
“The first 45, going down after one minute like this, we said on the bench [to] see how we bounce back or respond after this early goal – and the next 15 minutes we totally controlled it. So the players were very, very keen to win this game tie for first place in the Eastern Conference,” Backe said.
“And the first 45 minutes is probably the best we’ve played – probably since I’ve arrived, I would say.”
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