There were fireworks at Red Bull Arena Saturday but they were, for the most part, limited to the pre-game celebration of the Supporters Shield and the five minutes of added time at the very end of the game.
The New York Red Bulls began the game attacking toward their supporters’ end and gave the appearance of controlling the game even though the statistics tell a different story. Twelve attempts on goal and five on target in the first 45 minutes for the Colorado Rapids as opposed to four attempts, all off target, for the Red Bulls.
“Their average age is, what, 26…27…25? In this league you have to match the work rate with the intensity,” said RBNY head coach Mike Petke, speaking about the Colorado team post-game.
The Rapids brought their youth, intensity and work rate to bear against an older Red Bull squad. Twenty-three year old Dillon Powers was a strong part of those Colorado attacks. Even though he has been dealing with knee tendonitis issues and was questionable for the game, he led the Rapids decisively from the midfield. Deshorn Brown, 23, had five shots, with just one on target, while nineteen year old Dillon Serna, a homegrown player for the Rapids who debuted in their final game last season, took three shots, threatening with two in the half.
The Red Bulls defense was much more organized than when they opened the season last week against Vancouver. Jamison Olave and Richard Eckersley both were strong in initiating attacks from Colorado’s long clearances, but with play consistently running down the shadowed side of the pitch, the team soon became predictable. Neither side seemed poised to score in the first 45 minutes, although Colorado produced the most tense moments when the ball was not cleared from the front of the Red Bull goal, and pin-balled around the box.
The first half ended 0-0. The edge was with the Colorado Rapids.
“An all in, fiery, hard working coach,” Petke said, comparing the Rapids new coach Pablo Mastroeni to the team.
The Red Bulls looked to the sunny side of the pitch at the opening of the second forty-five, and it was there that they won back the ball in the Colorado half. When the ball found the feet of Lloyd Sam, he sent it across the goal for a diving Thierry Henry to head in. 1-0 Red Bulls in the 57th minute.
It was two of the three substitutes that the Colorado team made in the half that evened the scoreline in the 72nd minute, when Marvin Chavez drew a questionable foul from Jamison Olave. Olave, who traded words and shoves with Deshorn Brown earlier in the game, seemed targeted both for his reputation and that confrontation. The penalty kick was converted into a draw against the home team, and neither the Red Bulls introduction of Eric Alexander for the booked Lloyd Sam and Peguy Luyindula for Bradley Wright-Phillips, nor their sustained attack in the added five minutes, could change the 1-1 final score.
There were a few things that plain speaking manager Mike Petke talked about after the game. It may not be the result he had hoped for, but he says that he was feeling better about what he saw in the defense… holding the line, stepping up together. A line beginning to gel. Forget about the refereeing as well. He doesn’t see an excuse there. Instead, he pointed to three other issues; “Lack of creativity. Lack of imagination. Not finishing.”
New York Red Bulls: Luis Robles, Richard Eckersley, Jamison Olave, Armando, Roy Miller, Lloyd Sam (Eric Alexander 81’), Tim Cahill, Dax McCarty, Bobby Convey (Jonny Steele 67’), Bradley Wright-Phillips (Peguy Luyindula 86’), Thierry Henry
Colorado Rapids: John Berner, Chris Klute (Marc Burch 52’), Shane O’Neill, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Dillon Serna, Nick LaBrocca, Dillon Powers (Vicente Sanchez 65’), Jose Mari, Gabriel Torres, Deshorn Brown (Marvin Chavez 61’)
COL: Deshorn Brown (caution) 61’
NY: Lloyd Sam (caution) 79’
COL: Vicente Sanchez (caution) 80’
NY: Armando (caution) 85’