OK, so everyone tried to hype the game as a potential MLS Cup matchup, but I am going to be honest neither team looked like MLS Cup Champions in this one. It was clear that New York doesn't have the same game breaking abilities without the speed of Dane Richards on the outside creating chances and playing 5 men in the midfield and just Juan Pablo Angel up top, showed that they knew their best bet was to clog the middle and hope to chance a few ball through the much and try to create some chances. This of course limited both sides from playing anything close to the style of soccer that both are capable of, it is a tactic you would expect from a road team in a playoff series and perhaps it was NYDP getting ready for the post season?
I think nothing was more telling about the match than the fact that New York took 16 shots, a good number for a home team, but only got one of those on frame. Ah the wonders of Chris Albright and Rafa Marquez taking shots from distance. RSL got into the area a couple times, and many are once again crying foul for some missed calls as the curse of Jair continues to baffle RSL. For me I simply don't believe this guy should be an official in MLS, he is too inconsistent and clearly lacks the ability to call a fair match. He should have never been brought back after being suspended at the end of last year. That being said RSL had their chances but on the road they continue to struggle with scoring (clearly New York isn't New England).
after the jump, post match comments from both locker rooms:
REAL SALT LAKE HEAD COACH JASON KREIS
On today's match:
"I think we did enough to perhaps earn the three points, but all in all it was a fairly even game. I think we were also a little fortunate not to give anything away, probably a just result."
On how even the game was:
"Yeah, I thought there were some moments when some really nice things were happening. Creating the chances that we did, hitting the post twice, Javier (Morales)'s great free kick. You have to feel good about that stuff, but still... I'm still a little worried about the team's energy level."
On how exhausting traveling is before the game:
"To be in New England last weekend, and then have to come back all the way over here this weekend I think that is a huge, huge reason why I don't think the energy level is where it should be. But give credit to the guys, I think that as the game went on our energy level was better and better and better. I think we were actually working harder at the end of the game than we were at the beginning."
REAL SALT LAKE MIDFIELDER KYLE BECKERMAN
On the match:
"It was what you expected, not trying to give anything away. It was a good hard fought match. You know we are on the road, it's a little different. I think they had the first half, but we had the better chances. On the second half, I thought we controlled the midfield a little better... Just two teams going at it and not much separating them."
REAL SALT LAKE MIDFIELDER JAVIER MORALES
On today's match:
"It was an even match, they had their chances. But in my opinion we had the clearest options, we had two balls that hit the post, two missed penalty calls, (Greg Sutton) made two very
good saves. Looking back at the game, I don't think (Nick) Rimando had to make any saves and they didn't have any clear scoring opportunities... It was an even game but I think we deserveD the three points, they had control of the ball but we created the scoring chances."
On how the result affects the race for the Supporter's Shield:
"It's a tough situation, there are only two games left and I believe (Los Angeles) have a four point difference on us. It's tough, they would have to lose the next two games and we would have to win our remaining matches. But overall I'm very pleased with the team's season."
On the team's performance going into the playoffs:
"Hopefully we can keep the momentum going into the playoffs, playing solid away and home matches. Hopefully we can continue playing the same way we have been doing it all season long."
On the pressure of defending the MLS Cup:
"I don't believe there is a lot of pressure. We have a ton of energy and a lot of people that believe in us, in comparison to last year when nobody trusted us. We are one of the favorites but I don't feel any pressure going into the playoffs."
NEW YORK RED BULLS HEAD COACH HANS BACKE
On the game:
"It was a very tight game, it never really opened up. There weren't many scoring chances, it was very tight throughout. They (Real Salt Lake) are very strong in the back and they can defend well. This is a type of game when two teams are in good shape, are well organized, so a result of a tie is OK."
On the midfield play:
"I think it was even on the midfield. We played almost three central midfield players to compete with their four players. I think it was a very even game, and both midfields couldn't really create the big chances because of good defending."
On Juan Agudelo's play off the bench:
"He is closer. I think he is ready to get more minutes. It's difficult to say in which position depending on which system we use. He almost had a great assist for a goal. He has power, he has pace, and he's ready to get more minutes soon."
On Tim Ream's play:
"I think he made some errors in the beginning when he played a little naïve in our build up, but after 20-30 minutes he was rock solid. He played a bit tough, he has to be tougher in his 50-50 balls. He is very composed on the ball, but he has to win more tackles as a centerback. But he lifted his game after 20-30 minutes and was rock solid."
On Rafa Marquez's play:
"I think we have to go for 90 minutes with both Thierry (Henry) and Rafa (Marquez). We have just two games to go, Philly and New England, to be ready fitness wise to go into the playoffs. I think they're coming closer and closer, but to be fair to the players I still think they need a preseason to be back at full strength."
NEW YORK RED BULLS DEFENDER TIM REAM
On the team defense:
"It's not one guy. We emphasize team defense and Carlos (Mendes) did a good job of slowing the ball up. That's what we work on. Slow the ball up and you're going to have help coming. Fortunately I was the help and I got there, made some tackles, and danger was averted."
On the luck of the Red Bulls' defense:
"I think we're a little bit fortunate. At the same time, they didn't really create anything on the ground through the middle. I think we were a bit unfortunate not to finish some of our chances. I think it works both ways. You're always going to feel fortunate that maybe they missed a few, and you're going to feel unfortunate that we missed a few. That's just how the game goes."
On expecting a physical game:
"Because of the way (Kyle) Beckerman plays. (Alvaro) Saborio is a big target forward and he likes to throw his weight around. (Robbie) Findley is no slouch either. Even though he's small and quick, he can be physical when he wants to be. It's just the way the game is. You can't take any team lightly, and you've got to be physical with anybody."
NEW YORK RED BULLS MIDFIELDER MEHDI BALLOUCHY
On the physicality of the game:
"To be honest with you, it was fun being involved in it because everybody was fighting for their team. I'm happy that our team can pass the ball, but we can be physical when we need to."
On the difficulty of establishing an offensive flow:
"It was because of the way they play. They play with a four diamond in the middle. For me to come in the middle and to get the ball and turn would be impossible. So when I come in, I try to get everyone involved whether it's Rafa [Marquez], Tony [Tchani] or the outside backs. I think we did a good job of switching the play and once we switched the play, Roy (Miller) got forward, Chris (Albright) got forward and I think that was good."
I can say that I dropped Tim Ream off my Rookie of the year radar for some lackluster efforts in recent weeks but he was the guy I would give man of the match honors to for New York in this one as he put in a very impressive effort.
OFF MY SOAPBOX