The last time the New York Red Bulls won a road match against Columbus Crew SC, it was May 2013. Tim Cahill scored a 80th minute goal in route to what would be a year in which the team won the Supporter's Shield. Only four players from that match (Lloyd Sam, Luis Robles, and Roy Miller; Dax McCarty was out that match) are still with the Red Bulls. The week 4 matchup, much like the one from 2013, was chippy at times, but the Red Bulls came out victorious after doing what they needed to do.
Once again, the midfield trio of Dax McCarty, Felipe Martin, and Sacha Kljestan dominated the midfield, making it hard for Columbus to get any consistent momentum going on the offensive side of the ball, and created more than enough chances for the offense, including what would be the teams' 1000th goal in all competitions.
(Piece of Trivia: This was Mike Grella's 1st career MLS goal)
The match is indicative of the type of up-temp play that Jesse Marsch wants the team to play going forward. Defense was a full team effort with the back line and midfield seemingly swarming every Crew SC player who had the ball. Marsch still wasn't happy though as he felt the team could have played better.
On the Red Bulls handling the pace of play:
I thought we handled the pace of the game really well. It was a fast game and they were good at spreading the field, but we were able to stay after them and when we one-balled we were able to find advantages forward. Even in build-up, especially in the second half, we were able to space ourselves a little bit better and find ways to put them on their heels a little bit. I thought we managed the game well. It was a little scary at the end of the game when Luis [Robles] made the big play and we weren't sure what they called, but overall I think this team just keeps pushing and keeps coming together. I really like these guys and there's something happening here. I think we all can feel it.
On things the team can improve on:
This was a very fast game. Much faster than the game we played against D.C. United, and we gave away too many balls and gave them too many advantages from giveaways. So I think we want to clean some of that up. We did that in the second half, but if we can find a way to figure that out earlier we won't give ourselves as much trouble.
The Red Bulls, for as much as they caused Crew SC to give up possession, had a bad habit of giving it up in this match (76% passing accuracy). They did maintain most of the possession for the third straight game (50.6%) while winning the majority of the duels (63 to 49).
Through all of that though, it came down to some luck for the Red Bulls to come out on top. Lloyd Sam was brought down in the box in the 48th minute, setting up a Bradley Wright-Phillips' PK goal (his second on the year) a minute later. Columbus countered 10 minuted later when ex-Red Bull Tony Tchani ran free towards the far post on a corner kick; tapping in a deflected ball. Mike Grella (see video above) put the Red Bulls up for good catching Crew SC keeper Steve Clark off the line.
The last twenty minutes for the Red Bulls were nervy however. Crew SC had more than a few chances to equalize, but Luis Robles put in a few Save of the Week worthy saves to keep the ball out of the goal, including getting run into the post by Kei Kamara (no card given). Robles spent a few minutes on the ground during after it but thankfully was able to finish the match.
The win pushes the Red Bulls up to first in the Eastern Conference with a 2-0-1 record (7 points), and they remain as the only other unbeaten team in MLS (FC Dallas the other). Their next match is in two weeks when they travel down to D.C. United in the second episode of the 2015 Atlantic Cup on April 11th.