Last night was the first time all of our brand spanking new Designated Players were on the pitch together at Red Bull Arena. To say hopes were high is complete understatement. Rafael Marquez and Thierry Henry spent years playing with one another in Barcelona and Juan Pablo Angel has been our single saving grace since 2007. The pieces were put together brilliantly, the 1-2 combination of Henry/Angel would run circles around any defense in the MLS and Rafael Marquez was going to tighten up a mediocre midfield that often was unable to push the ball forward to set up the attack. Everyone bought into the hype as an uneducated New York Media (save Brian Lewis from the post, he knows soccer) hyped up this new team.
I personally was excited for this game. I'm in the process of a move and yesterday was my last home game, at least for this year. I will be returning for our games against the D.C. Scum next year since that's a rivalry you need to experience first hand. As cliche as it sounds, "the stage was set" for me to leave on a win. My support group was out with big numbers, there was a good feeling all around that we'd walk away with a win and then walk through Newark shirtless (a tradition when we win).
The game itself was decent. The team was moving the ball well with some opportunities to go ahead 1-0 early on but unfortunately Rickets was playing very well. A Juan Pablo Angel header off the cross bar in the first half as well as his PK from 25 yards out were heart breakers. This is the same old story with the Red Bulls: Missed Chances. The Galaxy didn't make such mistakes as they were able to capitalize a lazy pass from Rafa that hit Enson Buddle square in the chest which allowed him to split the defense and put a ball past now fan favorite Bouna Coundoul. Bouna has been on fire since a very shaky month of May and even in yesterday's loss showed why he's the starter. He needs to work on his on field IQ but he's playing very well and is able to make up for his mental errors with athleticism.
After the jump I will discuss the second half as well as just random thoughts...
The second half started and you could tell the Red Bulls were playing with some pep in their step. They understood they were down and needed to come back. The offense was looking good but it just felt like the referees were controlling the game. The non call on Henry in the box sticks out best in my mind. This mugging led to Angel losing his cool and looking like he'd slug the ref. He was swiftly rewarded with a yellow card. Talk about a momentum killer. This wasn't the only bad call by the refs either. The Red Bulls were called off sides a staggering eight times. While the Galaxy defense was playing very tight, there were times when the New York squad was clearly on sides when the whistle was blown.
The Red Bulls played well despite the loss. It's obvious that the chemistry isn't there yet but that's to be expected. Your major signings haven't had the time to get a feel for each other on the field and it shows. The second half of the game was like the first with the team just missing out on their chances. The Red Bulls just couldn't convert and with the time running out and one last opportunity to score, Macoumba Kandji was unable to put enough power on the ball to equalize.
The Stadium was incredibly loud. I actually moved to the other side of the stadium during the second half to my actual seats in 116 and was still able to hear the chants from the South Ward. While it was an "official" sell out, anyone who was at the game will tell you there were plenty of empty seats. The amount of scalpers trying to sell tickets outside was ridiculous.
For my last home game I had a ton of fun, if any of you make it down to either Houston or Dallas next year let me know, I'll be at both games.