The scoring opened when Sacha Kljestan hit an absolute bomb of a rocket from well outside the box in the 21st minute. There was nothing Orlando's keeper could do as the former Seton Hall man was almost in disbelief after his shot went in.
Shortly after, Canadian international Cyle Larin was sent off in the 32nd minute after going in studs up on Kljestan. There was plenty of debate over whether it was a good call by the referee, but this is a Red Bulls blog so obviously it was a great call.
What else happened? Oh, yes, Damien Perrinelle had a goal disallowed. Some said it was a makeup call. That's fair. Also, Adrian Heath sent to the locker room later in the match. He yells a lot. Heath seems stressed. He should try yoga. Or winning matches.
Despite being down a man for almost 60 minutes, Orlando dominated the run of play for the rest of the match, but were unable to find a goal. How sad. The Red Bulls bunkered a bit and occasionally pushed forward, but were content to stay compact and weather attacks.
Eventually Orlando pushed too many players up the field and Mike "Goals" Grella was able to put the match away in the 91st minute with an insurance goal, battering through and weaving past defenders on a long run. And with that the match was over. Goodbye, Orlando. Enjoy your mosquitoes.
One is enough
You're on the road in a hostile (sort of) environment. All you need is one chance, one opportunity. Do you capture it or let it slip? Sacha Kljestan, despite his palms being sweaty, his knees weak, and his arms heavy, was able to step up and provide the sole moment of quality for the first 90 minutes.
I still don't think he's the 10/creative midfielder/trequartista/"goals and assists and dancing man" we all want him to be, but this was a nice start. Unfortunately, he still makes a lot of bad decisions on the break and will misplay the ball to runners. Is this a long term project? If so, then I suppose I can relax with the criticism considering he is producing in the spot and the team is doing well. I'm just not seeing the flash you expect from an attacking midfielder, although perhaps I'm expecting too much.
But two is better
We had to wait until the end of the match, but the Long Island Ronaldinho did it again. He took the ball on the right side of the field and rumbled, stumbled, and rambled through a few defenders before slotting the ball past Orlando keeper Tally Hall.
This guy, this Mike Grella guy, is good. There's something to be said about playing an inverted winger. It adds an element of bite to the attack. He's not perfect, but he keeps getting the job done.
I'll admit, I wasn't high on the Grella signing and I was less high on him starting. I was wrong. Dead wrong. Mike Grella has been a revelation this year for the Red Bulls and I feel like Simon Cowell watching Susan Boyle perform "I Dreamed a Dream" on Britain's Got Talent whenever Grella takes over a match.
What can we say about him that hasn't been said over and over again? He is one of the best goalkeepers in franchise history and he continues to put in solid performances every week. It's becoming a routine that he makes multiple huge saves every match. What doesn't Jurgen Klinsmann like about him? Is Bill Hamid really that much better than Luis? (People will tell you that he is, but guess what... he isn't.)
We have to appreciate Luis Robles because nobody -- not the league, not the national team, not the media -- will give him his due.
- I'm quietly impressed with Anthony Wallace. "Where's Wallace?" All over the field breaking up the opponent's attack.
- If I'm impressed with Wallace, then I'm doubly impressed with Damien Perrinelle. He's an animal and has that sixth sense to be in the right place at the right time to make those goal-saving "hero" tackles.
- Dax McCarty... two assists. Not a bad homecoming.
- It sucks watching Kaka play for Orlando. He should have been playing for New York. But hey, at least we got Digao. That was fun, right? We didn't get the former FIFA Player of the Year, but we got his useless idiot brother who will be the source of stories and jokes for the rest of our lives. I'm not angry or bitter, I swear.