If you turned off the TV 10 minutes into the New York Red Bulls match against New York City FC today, I don't think anyone would've blamed you at the time. The came out horrendous, and were a red card away from match the opening 15 against the Vancouver Whitecaps. The defense was all out of sorts when Thomas MacNamara, who was being marked by Bradley Wright-Phillips, put one in near the far post to put NYC FC up 1-0.
For most of the first half, the Red Bulls looked out of sorts, not able to cope with a NYC FC side that was lying on a small pitch. Multiple players fell down in the New York Yankees outfield as the home side controlled play. The first New York team eventually got back into it, controlling possession towards the end of the first half, but not being able to finish, as has become their M.O.
The second half though, made this a tale of two halves. Wright-Phillips got his first goal in who knows how long only 2 minutes into the half. Five minutes later, Chris Duvall got a goal of his own for what would be the game winning goal. That goal, it must be said, was set up by a professional looking header by rookie Anatole Abang, who has come out on fire. In the 73rd minute, Matt Miazga scored his first goal ever to give the Red Bulls a 3-1 cushion to carry them through to the victory.
For the first time ever in 2015, the Red Bulls have scored 3 goals in a MLS game. It only took a 5 match MLS losing streak, and playing on a postage stamp size field at Yankee Stadium, but that monkey is finally off the back.
Kudos to anyone who traveled to Yankee Stadium to support the Red Bulls. Despite being in the top level of the stadium, and being really spread out (making it hard to organize chants), the supporters overpowered the home side. Chants from the visitors were clearly able to be heard through the ESPN coverage, and the commentary team even stopped to remark for a second. That's how travelling support is done.
The one dark spot in this match is the performance of Sacha Kljestan and Felipe Martins. The two central midfielders did not have the best game. Kljestan had a few moments where his passing almost got some goals, but overall it looked like he was waiting just a moment too long on most plays. The team didn't get hurt by it, but a better team will make the Red Bulls pay for it.
Felipe Martins just needs something. He isn't the guy to deliver Free Kicks & Corner Kicks, the service just isn't there. He also has trouble on the ball and doesn't seem to want to take a second to settle before a shot. It could be a confidence thing, and maybe a trip down to the USL side for a few games could help with that. Whatever it is though, either he needs to fix it, or the Red Bulls need to pick a better option.
Bonus: The Field
Yankee Stadium is obviously going to have problems going back and forth between baseball and soccer. However, conditions like that should never be accepted by MLS. The grass over the dirt looks horrible on TV, and players slipping while making simple cuts without pressure is not a good thing. The game looked sloppy early on because Red Bull players weren't ready for the grass. MLS needs to come down on NYC FC for it and force a consistent playing surface.