March 2015 was a fun month to be a fan of the New York Red Bulls. After a turbulent off-season, even by the standards of this club, simply having games to watch was relief. Watching RBNY play three times, win twice and remain unbeaten throughout, was a joy.
To celebrate, Once A Metro has a decided to inaugurate a Goal of the Month competition.
Every month, OaM
will argue incessantly and without great purpose unsuccessfully try to stop Lester turning this into a Burrito of the Month competition nominate four goals scored by RBNY during the calendar month in question.
Eligible goals are those scored in any competition the Red Bulls participate in during the month. And goals scored in competitive RBNY II games are also eligible - as soon as RBNY II starts scoring goals (next time, fellas; we have every faith).
This month, RBNY scored five times, each in MLS. And RBNY II scored none. One of the five eligible goals was BWP's penalty kick against Columbus. It was important and PKs are a lot harder than they look. We have no beef with goals from the penalty spot, but this month there were four goals that will probably turn up in our Goal of the Season competition (yeah, we're hoping that'll be a thing too, subject to keeping Lester's burrito fixation from derailing this endeavor). So those four goals - the ones that weren't scored from the penalty spot - are this week's nominees.
Presented in the order they were scored:
1. Lloyd Sam chop (vs. Sporting Kansas City, March 8)
Lloyd Sam's signature move - the chop - shakes off Matt Besler. Then he fires off a shot from the edge of the penalty area, guiding the ball through a narrow gap between two defenders and into the top corner of KC's goal.
It was perfectly timed too: RBNY had just given up a goal, four minutes earlier. The Red Bulls' and Sam's first goal of the season was the team's first equalizer on the road of MLS 2015 - and it stood up to allow RBNY its first point of the campaign.
The goal was nominated for MLS's Goal of the Week competition, finishing second in the Week 1 vote.
2. "No Thierry, no Tim: no problem." (vs. D.C. United, March 22)
BWP didn't get a shot, on or off target, in the opening game of the season. There were concerns that he might not be as effective a scoring threat in the new system Jesse Marsch has introduced to the team. And then, against D.C. United, Dax McCarty floated a ball over the top. BWP flicked the bouncing ball away from Steve Birnbaum, let it settle - and spanked it past Bill Hamid for his first goal of MLS 2015.
It was BWP's first game-winning goal of the season too (RBNY won 2-0). And the reassurance fans were waiting for that Wright-Phillips would still find opportunities - and convert them - in the new game plan.
3. The Sam slam (vs. D.C. United, March 22)
Lloyd Sam has been enjoying the task set for him by Jesse Marsch: score more goals, basically. Against DC, he got RBNY's insurance goal with a shot that was simply too hard and too fast for Bill Hamid to stop. The 'keeper knew it was coming but still couldn't prevent Sam from slamming the ball inside the near post.
It was Sam's second goal of the month and the season, and his 13th in all competitions in his career to date at RBNY.
4. "In the back of the net by the guy that just came in the game" (vs. Columbus Crew, March 28)
In an apt reflection of RBNY's season to date, the commentators on the Columbus feed were talking about other teams when Mike Grella floated a chip over Steve Clark from 25 yards to score the game-winner over the Crew.
The Red Bulls have largely been discussed, if at all, in the context of off-season overhaul and the arrival of that team across the river. Understandable: there have been so many changes to the squad it was hard to remember the names of the new players, let alone predict whether they would mesh with Jesse Marsch's tactical plan, which he insisted on describing in terms as close to meaningless as possible ("energy drink", "uptempo" etc.).
Marsch's tactics are a little easier to understand now that we've seen a few games. And Grella's name should be remembered after the manner of his first goal in MLS. It was also the club's 1,000th goal of all time, all competitions.
All great goals, all part of games that ended well for RBNY. But which one is this month's best?
Over to you, readers. We'll keep the poll open until end of day Friday - because it is a bye week and if there is going to be anything for you to read on this website this weekend there needs to be something to talk about.
Vote! (And/or sound off in the comments if you think we overlooked a contender - which means BWP's PK against Columbus, in this case.)