October 20, 2012
'A VERY COMPLETE PERFORMANCE'
McCarty, Red Bulls buoyed by their play in 0-0 tie
By Kristian R. Dyer
|Dax McCarty: "We carved them open three or four times. Sometimes, we played the ball around them and created some good chances but other times we played more direct and it was effective."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
BigAppleSoccer.com Contributing Editor
HARRISON, N.J. – When the Red Bulls played Sporting Kansas City a month ago, they looked like a disorganized, disinterested team that could barely pull themselves together. This time around it wasn’t a win but in their 0-0 result with Sporting at Red Bull Arena on Saturday night, New York exonerated its performance from Sept. 19.
With the tie, and D.C. United’s dramatic 3-2 win over the Columbus Crew at RFK Stadium, the Red Bulls made the playoffs – a sigh of relief after a wildly inconsistent last two months. But getting a good result, even a scoreless one against Sporting Kansas City, very much atoned for that performance a month ago when saw the team break down defensively two times early in the game.
“Last time we played them, we gave up two early goals. Look, let’s call a spade a spade, they’re the best team in the league defensively, there’s no question about it," midfielder Dax McCarty said. "Tonight, I think we carved them open three or four times. Sometimes, we played the ball around them and created some good chances but other times we played more direct and it was effective.
“I think it was a very complete performance for us.”
It was a more balanced approach from the Red Bulls against the Eastern Conference leaders as they pressed better and kept more fluid possession, creating a number of half-chances. As has been the case much of the season, in that last game a month ago, the Red Bulls had an overwhelming amount of the possession but registered only three chances on goal.
This time, coach Hans Backe said that “We should have won three or four nil; that should have been a normal result.”
Despite the draw, he saw Saturday night’s showing as good enough heading into the post-season.
“It’s quite basic, I think the last game they outworked us," he said. "It was quite frustrating to see them moving all the bits and pieces, second balls – we had done some small adjustments in our attacking game, our defending game but overall it was our pressing game, that kind of fire, energy in our pressing game that we gave them no time on the ball. Forced them to more or less just kick it long. I hope we go into the playoffs because if we can play like this and so close to the playoffs we can set the level to what we can do.”
There was a number of chances for the Red Bulls in the match, 10 shots with five put on the frame, clearly more than for the visitors, who forced goalkeeper Luis Robles into just one save the entire game. But the fluidity of the Red Bulls, in particular the midfield’s ability to pinch in and maintain a tight shape then switch quickly into the counterattack mode, was a clear difference.
That and a clean sheet has the Red Bulls feeling jubilant heading into the playoffs.
“We knew that we needed to do something against Kansas, we seem to always be losing against them. Today we knew we had to be defensively very solid,” midfielder Teemu Tainio said. “I don’t remember to many chances that we had so that’s the first thing – keep the clean sheet and you’re always going to be in the game.”