Wednesday, June 30, 2010

US Open Cup: Cepero's Revenge

The Red Bulls US Open Cup run is over, as the Harriburg City Islanders (USL2) won the first round Cup tie 1-0. The heartbreaking Harrisburg goal, scored by forward Dominic Oppong, came deep into the second half of overtime (117th minute). By all accounts, former Red Bulls keeper Danny Cepero was Man of The Match. This is what Derek Meluzio, writing in the Upper 90 blog, had to say about Cepero's performance:
Danny Cepero was on a mission. The focus in that guys eyes prior to the match was intense. He made multiple saves (he was credited with 8) but he also came off his line well to snatch up the ball any time it came inside the 18. He distributed the ball well. He did all the right things and was rewarded with a clean sheet against his former team.
Cepero himself had this to say, in the Patriot-News game report:
I think we saw in the first half that they weren’t Manchester United, they weren’t Barcelona, they weren’t coming at us and blowing us out of the water by any means and so we can hang with them — and I think that steadily grew as the minutes progressed.
And that's just it, isn't it? If you don't blow these lower division teams out of the water quickly, they'll start thinking they can win. They'll come at you with everything and they'll kill you, unless you put them away early. The Red Bulls had possession and the better of play in the first half, but that wasn't the case in the second half and the 30 minutes of extra time played. As Danny C. stated, the City Islanders started thinking "we can hang with them." 

In the full time comments, Jeremy Hall even said the Red Bulls "didn't really have much possession." That's really inexcusable right there! I can handle the Red Bulls losing a game where they had much possession but just couldn't put it in, and then were beaten by a fluke goal (or one brilliant play that led to a goal). Now, a game where most of the possession went to a third division team, that's inexcusable.

Also, I believe Mr. Backe's personnel choices were just a bit off. The live commentary from Red Bulls Reader had RBNY coming out like this:






That's several guys playing way out of position. Seriously, Agudelo on the Left, Nielsen at Creative Mid and Hall at Defensive Mid (first time in his career)? That's shades of Osorio right there. Would it not have been better to start Nielsen at his natural Left Mid role, Sinisa in the Middle and Tchani at Defensive Mid? Also, why not Mendes instead of Petke (who, by all accounts, got burned on the City Islanders goal)?

Let me suggest to everyone that: when you don't have your big guns and several of your players are way out of position, the gap in quality between MLS and USL2 isn't as wide as one would think. But enough of my armchair manager crap. We're out and that's it!

Check out the full Upper 90 report, with photos and videos, by clicking here. Here's the Patriot-News photo gallery from the game. Here's a nice photo set from the game, courtesy of jacorbett70.
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