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September 29, 2012
Sam shows athleticism, pace, skill in 1st Red Bulls start

By Kristian R. Dyer Contributing Editor

HARRISON, N.J. – His first MLS start looks like it won’t be his last.

Red Bulls midfielder Lloyd Sam put in an active 57 minutes before succumbing to left hamstring tightness but his first start for the Red Bulls in the 4-1 win over Toronto FC on Saturday night since signing with the club in mid-August was an unquestioned success. Originally with Notts County in England, Sam showed athleticism, pace and some deft skill in his most extended action in league play.

“Lloyd, I was very happy with his first 45 minutes – so good on the ball. Gives us possession, can take people on 1 v. 1,” head coach Hans Backe said.

His deal with the Red Bulls runs through the season with a club option to extend the deal to next year but it would seem a no-brainer to extend the deal. Sam gives the Red Bulls some much needed pace since Dane Richards was dealt to Vancouver this summer, but he’s also a far more complete winger than the Jamaican international.

Sam’s previous three MLS appearances were all off the bench, with precious little to put on the back of his trading card. But on Saturday night, Sam factored into the game’s final score with a secondary assist on the goal that gave New York a 2-1 lead. Taking a switch of field from Wilman Conde, Thierry Henry backpassed to Sam and then spun towards goal. Then Sam did the smart thing with the ball which led to a Kenny Cooper goal.

He passed to Henry which led the mercurial forward streaking into the penalty area.

“You don’t miss when Henry spins towards goal,” Sam said.

“I’m sure you heard him scream and I just played him in and then unselfishly he set up Kenny. It was a great move.”

It was a savvy bit of vision and touch from Sam to register his first MLS assist.

But Sam’s biggest play won’t appear on the scoreboard but came in the 52nd minute when he broke up a Toronto counterattack, using his speed to sprint and intercept what would have been Quillan Roberts going in alone on New York’s goal.

All part of a MLS start that he’s been chomping at the bit for.

“I’ve been waiting for that so I was a bit anxious before the game. As soon it started, I just wanted to run around and do what I can do, just try and get as many crosses in as possible,” Sam said. “Hopefully next time get a few more shots in too.”

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