The first of three matches for the Atlantic Cup was set to be perhaps one of the most exciting of the early stages of the MLS season. With both teams locked back-to-back in the Eastern conference, a seemingly age old rivalry was set to ignite.
The blood, the sweat, the tears…it was all there. Well, ok that is perhaps an exaggeration but the match proved to excite for a Red Bull team that seemed without much sting in their last couple of matches.
New York, in a recent struggle for form having come off of a two game losing streak on the road, lined-up in their previously favored 4-2-3-1 to regain control of a previously overwhelmed midfield. Early on, the Red Bulls enjoyed their fair share of dangerous opportunities and slicing runs.
In the 4-2-3-1 with star Bradley Wright-Phillips adopting his preferred role as poacher and target man, he provided ample opportunities to light up the back of D.C.’s net. Winger Alex Muyl would have solid opportunities which ultimately proved to be inert. Both men would ultimately fall short thanks to the tried and true heroics of United stalwart keeper Bill Hamid.
All of the Red Bull’s attacking efforts were marked by equally impressive D.C. efforts driven by the diminutive playmaker Luciano Acosta. A low cross from Acosta found the feet of midfielder Ian Harkes whose shot was deflected away by New York’s emerging talent Tyler Adams.
The chippy first half, marked by physical but composed play ended without incident…incident reflected on the score board that is. Two rather soft yellow cards to Felipe and Sacha Kljestan respectively left a poor taste in New York’s mouth as the first half wound down.
Coming out of the half, Muyl was determined to grab a goal and he succeeded early on. Kljestan delivered a precise corner into the D.C. box to find Muyl who rose above his marker to head the ball past Hamid and draw first blood for the Red Bulls.
The first strike is deadly, but the second one is atomic.
New York, aiming to take the fight to D.C. on all fronts, would increase their margin of victory via the golden foot of Wright-Phillips. Felipe, charging forward, played a clever through ball to BWP who was one-on-one against Hamid. If you were the type of person inclined to gamble on sporting events, always bet on Wright-Phillips.
Lining up against Hamid, Wright-Phillips placed the ball between his legs to put the Red Bulls up by two.
A team which looked lifeless, zapped of both creativity and drive regained its horns on Saturday. The first of a three game home stand could not have possibly gone better for the Red Bulls as they hope to produce an encouraging run of form.
New York will return to action on Saturday, April 22nd at 7:30pm EST for their second of three straight home games.
46′ RBNY: Alex Muyl, assisted by Sacha Kljestan
62′ RBNY: Bradley Wright-Phillips, assisted by Felipe
40′ RBNY: Felipe, yellow
45′ RBNY: Kljestan, yellow
52′ United: Acosta, yellow
56′ RBNY: Lawrence, yellow
80′ United: Franklin, yellow
RBNY: Robles, Lawrence, Long, Collin, Zizzo, Adams, Felipe, Kljestan (88′ Perrinelle), Muyl, Royer (70′ Etienne), Wright-Phillips (80′ Gulbrandsen)
DC United: Hamid, Kemp, Boswell, Birnbaum (90′ Opare), Franklin, Jeffrey, DeLeon (48′ Le Toux), Acosta, Harkes, Sam, Ortiz (65′ Neagle)
New York Red Bulls