All it took was 9 seconds for the Columbus Crew to take a lead on the New York Red Bulls. Straight off the kickoff, the Crew launched a long ball to Kei Kamara who knocked it down to Ethan Finlay. Finlay lost control of the ball and it fell to Justin Meram and the Iraqi international volleyed the ball home with aplomb past a stunned Luis Robles.
The Red Bulls responded admirably creating their best chance of the night shortly after the goal. In the 4th minute, Lloyd Sam put Sacha Kljestan in on goal, but he was unable to get it past goalkeeper Steve Clark.
And that was mostly it for the Red Bulls, as they failed to put together anymore clear-cut opportunities. The Crew, however, were not finished. Inside the 85th minute, substitute Cedric Mabwati danced his way through Dax McCarty, Gonzalo Veron, and Felipe Martins before crossing the ball to Kei Kamara for the tap-in.
The result was the first time the Red Bulls have been shutout since a 2-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union on May 24th. More importantly, it puts the Red Bulls in a massive hole for the return leg at Red Bull Arena.
Dax and Sacha's worst game
Felipe was the lone bright spot in what was an uncharacteristically sloppy game from Jesse Marsch's midfield. Dax looked like a hollow shell of the player that he normally is, making giveaways left and right. Kljestan did not fare much better. If the Red Bulls are going to mount a come back in the second leg, the midfield is going to have to play better on both sides of the ball.
The Achilles' heel
The Red Bulls' high pressure system looks its worst when countered with a direct style of play that makes use of long balls over the top as well as fast counter attacks. The Crew knew exactly what they were doing on that first play, and it worked. They counterattacked very well throughout the entire match, and if it wasn't for some brilliant individual defending from Felipe of all people, things could have looked worse for the Red Bulls.
The disappearance of Bradley Wright-Phillips
BWP hardly got involved at all during the match. Part of that has to do with the poor play of the midfield. The talismanic striker looked as if he was on an island for the most part. It also has a lot to do with the service that he was getting. Rather than try to put the ball at his feet or play him into space, it seemed as though the Red Bulls were content with crossing it to BWP. While heading the ball is not one of his weaknesses by any means, Wright-Phillips is better off with the ball at his feet.