Once again it was another fantastic night of Football at Red Bull Arena and from the first row in the lower bowl all the way to the last of the upper bowl, it was a full house and not one section was barren. Everyone came to honor Clint Mathis before the match started & see America’s superstar in Landon Donovan, Thierry Henry, Rafa Marquez and a hard fought match that came with it. There were plenty of chances from both sides and the action was intense. But the only goal of the match came from League leading goal scorer Edson Buddle.
In the 10th minute it would be a weak back pass from Rafa Marquez and then out of nowhere Buddle just got onsides behind Carlos Mendes and broke thru. Mendes tried to hold him off, but it was too late & Buddle scored his league leading thirteenth goal of the season, just past a diving Bouna Coundoul & inside the far post. Throughout the first half Donovan Ricketts looked a bit razzled with the Empire Supporters Club chanting behind him and twice he shanked two clearing attempts into the far side stands. But once the second half got started he would make several strong saves including two chances off a corner in the 72nd minute. It looked like a sure equalizer for New York, but Ricketts made the body diving save along the goal line on Thierry Henry and stopped the rebound from another player in the area.
“I Liked this game”, said New York Head Coach Hans Backe. “Probably one of the most intensive game this season. One turnover cost us a goal, but other than that I liked our performance. Possession was good and we didn’t overplay it, we played rather relaxed and we still created plenty of chances.” If it wasn’t a shot off the post, it would be off the crossbar. If not the crossbar, then the shot went wide. But as the action went on what we saw was the start of a good future for the US Men’s National Team’s Backline.
Tonight we saw two young centerbacks playing exceptional defense and their positioning as well as their technical skills on the ball came ready to play. I am talking about Omar Gonzalez of the Galaxy & Tim Ream of the Red Bulls. I saw for the first time within ninety minutes what the commotion was all about in LA when Gonzalez was instructed to cover Thierry Henry, but when asked for his opinion on Ream, it was a fair critic.
“Watching some video on him I think he’s a very good defender”, said Gonzalez. “He could definitely be someone the (United States) National Team coach can look at.” When I asked Ream about being called up to the National Team one day he sounded calm and cool on the possible call up “It’s nice to be recognized”, said Ream. “But at the end of the day I’m only a rookie. It’s nice to hear it, but at the end of the day it’s not my decision.”
So for the Galaxy they take a huge three points on the road and for the Red Bulls, they can relax a bit and get ready for their next road match up at BMO Field in Toronto.