After the New York Red Bulls suffered 1-0 loss at the death a little over a week and a half ago, they corrected the record emphatically with a convincing 2-0 victory over D.C. United at Audi Field on Saturday night.
Aaron Long put the Red Bulls ahead in the 20th minute with a diving near post header off a free kick. Kaku delivered a beautiful ball where Aaron Long was running into a spot then a flick header beats Chris Seitz to take the lead. Before the play Long had been given a notesheet by interim head coach Bradley Carnell which was observed by the team during the celebration.
“Brad called me over before the play and gave me that piece of paper with something tactical on there to tell the boys.” said Long, “But I have to say that Kaku is such a great passer on the field, and when he is on, he can pinpoint players on the field which is definitely his strength.
“That why he gets so many assists every year, guys like me and other center backs get excited, because we know he can put it right where we like it. It’s just a good link up today, I didn’t have to do much, just put it at the right spot and got it in.”
Daniel Royer had been in the midst of a dire drought having not scored since the first match of the 2020 season against FC Cincinnati. He had chances that weren’t getting converted into the back of the net, but this time in the second half, it happened.
At the hour mark, Royer was in the perfect place as he let go of a sensational volley to give the visitors a two-goal lead. Kaku worked with Jason Pendant along the far side, then across from the Frenchman who found him with pinpoint accuracy was in the middle of the DC area. Royer unleashed that volley to beat Seitz cleanly.
But the star of the match was goalkeeper Ryan Meara, who stole the show until a left leg injury forced him out of the game in the 62nd minute when he was substituted by David Jensen. Two big saves in successive minutes kept the clean sheet intact.
Meara made a point-blank save on Julian Gressel as he got a good ball from Mohammed Abu in the 37th minute. Then in the next minute, more magical saves from Meara as he stopped a thumping volley from Geimin Rivas.
As D.C. United earned a corner from Meara’s first save, the ball sent to the middle of the area where Rivas leapt in the air and struck it well, but Meara made the acrobatic save to keep the clean sheet.
For Bradley Carnell in his second match running the first team, he earned his first win as a head coach, and he got it in a derby match.
“From what felt like the longest game of my life, turned into the three points we needed on the night. Very proud of the performance the guys put in, you know we just, through the effort and through the willingness, knew we had to respond. We had a couple of days extra to work with and we knew that through the week in training, with what we saw and the way we planned.” said Carnell, “Went at it in this formation, we knew we’d give ourselves a chance. I thought the second half was excellent, you know we’ll get to that in a minute. We knew that these boys staying together and the commitment to the team, we told them to keep working and yeah, we just have to reward ourselves.
“The goals will come. We’ve created some chances over the games before, prior to this, and it was just now about taking the reward and earning it. And we’ve earned it, these three points are valuable for the players. The subs that came on were huge and yeah, this is just the start. We cannot now rest on these three points, we know we’re going into a tough stretch, we lose now Ryan Meara, it’s tough to swallow, but we’ll keep pushing and we know we’ll get better as the weeks go on.”
Now they can head back home and rest up, as the Red Bulls will face FC Cincinnati for the third time this year next Saturday. While a long-term vision is being assembled in the aftermath of the Chris Armas era, it appears the Red Bulls may still have a chance at finding some success in the embers of 2020.