After going a full month with four draws and a loss, it felt like it could be mission impossible for New York Red Bulls losing five players to the CONCACAF Gold Cup and missing Bouna Coundoul to African Cup of Nations Qualifying. You would wonder if the depth was going to take the challenge well and to be honest they did a great job until the final moments of the match.
It was a gut wrenching draw within the final thirty seconds of second half stoppage time as the Columbus Crew pressed forward and tried to get that dagger in the heart of the Red Bulls. A turnover in midfield allowed Justin Meram to attack down the near side and when he got close to the area a quick cross to Rich Balchan, who came out of nowhere, slid the ball in for his first of the season.
“There’s no time to think. It’s all just instinctive” said Balchan. “The ball was perfectly put on my foot and I just kind of opened my foot up and put it toward the post a little bit.” For a side that has revamped their roster and fighting for every single point they can get, it looks like Balchan has made Robert Warzycha proud.
For the Red Bulls it started out very well in the early moments of the match. A chip from Mehdi Ballouchy in the ninth minute gave the Red Bulls the early lead in the match where Luke Rodgers was in a good position to receive the ball. When he turned, he found Ballouchy on a run and Will Hesmer came off his line to cut off the angle. The bending chip shot found the inside of the near post and that would be the only tally for New York.
Besides the goals many questions were answered for the Red Bulls as their depth was tested. Austin daLuz who lost a whole season last year with an injury finally got his chance to start and did a great job along the left flank of the midfield as Joel Lindpere returned centrally. “Felt good all week in training” said daLuz. “I’ve been waiting for this opportunity and felt very happy to get it.”
But unfortunately Red Bulls Head Coach Hans Backe was not a happy man giving up that late equalizer. The club had the lead from the ninth minute all the way towards the end until Balchan’s sliding attempt went through Sutton. “Hard stuff for us to lose two points like that” said Backe. “We should’ve closed it down within the last three minutes. We had possession. We had the ball in a good area of the right hand side. We battled well and defended decent. We should have won this game.”
But now there is another problem coming up and it could harm the depth of the club. Jan Gunnar Solli picked up a right hamstring strain and was subbed out of the match for Matt Kassel and with the Revolution coming in on Friday night, hopefully the club can break this current six match losing funk that they are in.