Thursday, February 23, 2012

Red Bulls Drop Opening Match in Arizona to RSL

Vuolo: Solid Between the Pipes
The Red Bulls got the Arizona leg of their 2012 preseason underway on Wednesday night, dropping a 0-1 decision to Real Salt Lake in their first match of the Desert Diamond Cup. With the "Reto Del Sol" match against UNAM Pumas scheduled for Thursday, against RSL Hans Backe was forced to field a squad composed of reserve players and trialists. The Red Bulls largely held their own in a first half that featured a few good chances for either side, perhaps none better than Corey Hertzog's shot just before the break, which was very well saved by RSL's keeper, Kyle Reynish. At the other end, Jeremy Vuolo made a string of nice stops for RBNY, showing off some of the skill that led Backe and Erik Solér to bring him back from the Finnish league.

In the second half, players clearly began to tire, and the Red Bulls were unable to find good scoring chances in the final third, despite some solid midfield play. Newly signed Victor Pálsson, along with Vuolo, may have been New York's most impressive player on the night, spraying passes around with confidence and showing good strength on the ball. With about a half an hour remaining, Jason Kreis began to empty his bench and bring on a number of first team regulars, including Kyle Beckerman, Chris Wingert and Fabian Espindola. It didn't take RSL too long after the substitutions to find a breakthrough. A quick counterattacking move down the right side of the Red Bulls defense allowed Espindola to play an inch-perfect cross to Paulo Jr., who put his header beyond the reach of Vuolo.

Despite the result, there were a number of positive takeaways from the match. As a whole, the team looked focused, energetic and fairly cohesive. Connor Lade showed some nice skill at left back, as did Jose Angulo, who did a good job of dribbling out of pressure when required. It's still very early, but in Vuolo and Pálsson, the Red Bulls may have found two very solid players who will push for first team minutes this season. It will be interesting to see if Ryan Meara can match Vuolo's performance against Pumas this evening. The biggest negative was the Red Bulls' inability to create solid chances in the final third, but remember this was a team playing without Henry, Rodgers, Agudelo and Cooper.

Tonight's match will be the first of a number of games shown this season on MSG+. Kickoff is at 10PM ET. You can find a complete Red Bulls' 2012 broadcast schedule here.

That's it for now. We'll be back with more following the Pumas match.
blog comments powered by Disqus