Call it what you want, the New York Cup, a "prestige friendly," a waste of time, but yesterday's win over Arsenal should do more for the New York Red Bulls than buttress the argument that we've got the Gunner's number.
Ostensibly, this was Thierry Henry's testimonial. It was his opportunity to play in the city he loves against the team he loves. And he put on a pretty solid performance, assisting on Bradley Wright-Phillips' eventual game winning goal. The South Ward was able to raise a nice tifo as tribute to him and a lot of Arsenal fans were able to give him a nice ovation or two during the 50-some-odd minutes he played.
But going forward, the win could mean so much more for a team that's lacking in both confidence and a solution at left midfield. Saturday afternoon, they may have found both.
Granted, the squad the Red Bulls took down Saturday wasn't Arsenal's best, however, the 20-man squad wasn't necessarily lacking in talent. Five of Arsenal's starters last season made the trip. Others were promising young talents.
The Red Bulls, on the other hand, while tremendously skilled on paper, are underachieving, sitting 12th overall and fifth in the East. Through 20 games, they seem like they're still stuck in preseason, unable to get in any sort of a groove.
Saturday, though, they looked pretty good, especially against a team that many would consider miles ahead of the Red Bulls, true or not. Maybe the result can give them some confidence down a packed stretch run where they desperately need points.
The other positive takeaway from yesterday? Ambroise Oyongo filled in admirably at left win, while Roy Miller got some fitness work at left back. Since breaking into the first team, Oyongo has been a revelation, and with Miller coming back, Petke is going to have to try and find a place on the field for him.
With the Red Bulls' issues at left midfield, Oyongo could be the answer. He's pacey and can hit a cross. He's also been steady while at left back. If he can bring those skills and that consistency to the midfield, he could be an upgrade over an inconsistent Eric Alexander.