Sunday, April 18, 2010

Red Bulls 2 FC Dallas 1 - A Look Back

The Viper's Nest crew was on hand again yesterday for the Red Bulls second league home game of the season, as we welcomed FC Dallas.  Well, everyone except Viper himself, who was celebrating Little Viper's birthday but managed to make it to the match in time.  Click here for a bit of pre-game video (sorry, embedding is acting up today), featuring the scene at MMM Bello's (dig that awesome GSS merch), some chat with Homebrew, our friend Paulo Pincaro and the great You Suck Corrales, as well as part of the GSS march-in.  We got two things right - Angel got off the mark and Bouna came up big! As for the rest - not so much.

For the second consecutive week, the Red Bulls failed to come out of the gates with much energy.  Our pre-game predictions of a motivated and inspired RBNY team fell well short of the mark, as Dallas dominated the early stretches of the game with their quick passing and movement, McCarty scoring on an open header from the middle of the 18 yard box.  Especially in the first half, the Red Bulls looked lethargic and gave the ball away far too easily, playing long aimless passes and scrambling to deal with FC Dallas attacks.  A second half fight back, some stellar goalkeeping and two goals from Angel secured what you would have to consider a very lucky 2-1 win.

As well as the great image of Angel celebrating with teammates that we have posted above, you can see more awesome photos here, courtesy of Chamber Images.

At this point, you'd have to consider Jeremy Hall one of the major disappointments of the young season. Yes, he's being asked to play a position that he's not best suited for and, yes, playing behind Dane Richards is not helping matters, but Dallas found a lot of joy down the right side of the Red Bulls' defense.  Hall doesn't seem to have the positioning sense and speed to deal with quick attackers.  I'm not sure that Chris Albright is the answer either, but it's a problem area that needs to be fixed before we pay too dearly.

Only poor finishing and some great reaction saves from Bouna Condoul kept the score from being lopsided in the Hoops' favor at halftime. Yes, the same Bouna Condoul who cost us points in L.A. last week.  For all the griping about our perceived weakness at the goalkeeper position, without Bouna we could be looking at three or four points instead of nine through the first four games.  Judging by Backe's post-game comments, he agrees.  Big ups to Bouna for putting the Chivas game behind him.

A few other gripes before we get to the positive stuff:
  • Shame on the fans who did not bother to show up.  Announced attendance was 13,667, which is disappointing any way you look at it.  OK so the weather was not great and it was not a rivalry game in any sense, but we have to do better.  I've been doing my best to bring in new fans like Paulo, and I've met a number of other new fans on the PATH and subway, but we as fans need to step up our advocacy.  Adding in a star player or two, as Solér has promised to do, wouldn't hurt.  Angel, for all his professionalism, has never been a big draw at the gate.
  • Staff training at RBA remains an issue.  I loaded $100 onto my season ticket card to expedite concessions, but the woman ringing up my hot dogs and pint of Pabst didn't really know what to do.  Good thing in the crowd was thin.  Friendly, yes.  Competent?  They're working on it.
Now the good:
  • You just knew Angel was going to have a break-out game eventually, and last night he looked sharp and hungry.  Lindpere's beautiful pass set up his first, as Angel applied a cool finish.  Looking again at Angel's missed penalty against Sala on the MSG replay, you have to give the Argie credit.  It was a very nice stop.  Angel could perhaps have put a little more behind it, but he struck it firmly enough.  JPA made no mistake with the second, blasting it to the right
  • Schellas Hyndman was not happy with referee Alex Prus at full time and gave him an earful at the center circle, but both penalties were warranted.  I sit in 107 level with the top of the South Ward penalty box.  Ubiparipovic was clearly inside the 18 yard box when fouled.  It was a tough decision for Prus and it took some bottle (as they say in the UK), but he got it right.  MLS fans - me included - like to bitch a lot about the standard of refereeing around the league, so we should praise them when they do their job well.
  • Speaking of Ubi... He's not a player I love but he worked his socks off in his brief substitute appearance.  He's a handy player to have for his work rate and versatility, but I think I like him better off the bench.
  • I know everyone is being cautious about anointing Tim Ream as the next great American central defender, but through four league games and a friendly he is clearly the find of the MLS draft.  He's confident on the ball, never panicky and has great positioning.  Ream saved Mike Petke's bacon last night when a stray pass led directly to an easy chance for Dallas.  The kid was on hand to clean up the mess.  Enjoy him now, folks, because I have a feeling he won't be here long.  Can we get a nickname for this guy, please?
Here is a post-game interview from MSG with Solér, where he talks with Shep Messing and Steve Cangialosi about designated players, the state of the team and a few other matters:

Just one more thing before I step aside.  Three Four Three, a reliable source for MLS rumors, reports that the Red Bulls have secured a friendly match against Italy's Juventus, date TBD.  Could this be part of the Football World Series?  Stay tuned.
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