Pete from the Empire Supporters Club and the Garden State Supporters is back with his take on the Red Bulls' 2-1 victory over FC Dallas this past Saturday.
Saturday's match against FC Dalla was the first home game where there was no “gimmick” attached to it. There ws no “First in Red Bull Arena” tagline to it. It was just a league game, nothing more or nothing less. It would be interesting to see how many people would return after all the hype of the first two games.
The weather wasn’t cooperative, but, at the same, time typical of a early season game. There was a little drizzle but luckily no major rain, but this may have factored into the attendance being about 13,000 in the stands. Even though it wasn’t a full house, that size crowd in a 25,000 seat stadium still looked good. If this were Giants Stadium, that size of a crowd would have looked sparse, but then again the attendance would probably be less. One advantage is the easy accessibility to RBA by transit to allow 13,00 fans get to a game.
One interesting note I heard from several people is that there was no marketing for this game, or at least not nearly the amount that the team did for the Santos and Fire games. Fair point, but I feel that the crowds that came to those games came to see the new “shiny thing”. The crowd that came Saturday night was the real fanbase. It’s not a huge number but it is something the team can start with in this “new era” of the team, and it shouldn’t take much to make the number rise. The crowd that did show for the game may not be as intense as the first couple home games, but it was still much better than the atmosphere was in the morgue that was Giants Stadium. Red Bull Arena is built to maximize the atmosphere that is in it with the roof holding in the sound, how close the fans are to the game, and just the smaller size.
Now to the main part of being at the stadium: the game itself. Dallas came out in a 4-5-1 formation, which says they either are playing for a draw, have no confidence in their attackers, or wanted to try to plug up Angel and the Red Bulls offense in the middle of the field. The Red Bulls came out in their traditional 4-4-2. At the start of the game , the team looked as flat as they looked against Chivas USA. The formation Dallas used did seem to neutralize the Red Bulls, creating turnovers and getting into the offensive part of the field. For the most part, he Red Bulls defense bent but didn’t fully break. Tim Ream is probably the steal of the MLS draft, and he and Mike Petke have the center of the defense held down. Dallas should have scored several goals, but the pressure put on by the defense caused Dallas to miss or not get their shots off.
Dallas did score the first goal of the game off a cross from out wide. Allowing crosses into the box is a major issue with the Red Bulls, and in this league where a lot of teams play out wide, it is important that the team improve defending wide plays. For most of the game, Dallas looked like the stronger team, holding most of the possession and getting the chances. If it weren’t for the penalties called (one of which I thought was outside the box) and the play to score the first goal, I don’t think the Red Bulls had any good scoring chances. The team played with Jeremy Hall and Roy Miller wide in defense, and Max Kandji and Dane Richards out wide in the midfield. Plenty of speed in all of them, but that’s it. Kandji plays too selfish, not passing when he should and finding himself offside. Richards doesn’t do what he should do. He’ll cross when he should pass, pass when she should shoot, and shoot when he has no angle. Miller and Hall are good defensively but tend to push up too much, and in a game where the team was turning the ball over so much, they were lucky only one goal was scored.
Angel seemed to start to wake up in this game. He seemed more aggressive to get the ball and work to try to score. There were some moments where he had a chance to pass the ball to someone open in the box, but decided to cross the ball and have that scoring chance missed. It seems he’s trying to do everything himself, and that whoever he is paired with, he has to still act like he’s the lone striker up front. Perhaps with the new signings, and more time under Backe’s system, he won’t have to carry the team on his back.
Going home and thinking about the game again, it was nice to see the Red Bulls get the “home team” calls in some situations, something that rarely happened in the past. Also it is these type of games that the team needs to make them focus and improve. For the fans in attendance, it wasn’t a pretty game to watch, and somewhat frustrating to see how sloppy the team played, but in the end the team got the full points and the fans got to see Angel play his best game so far this season.