Well I guess that the constant is that no matter what I expect from RSL, they will surprise me. When I think they should dominate a team like Columbus they come out flat and give up two goals in the first 10 minutes, when I expect that they will struggle with the skill level of LA or New York, they simply demolish them. Let me be honest about this, LA quit after the 2nd goal against them back in March, and tonight New York gave up after the gave up a 3rd goal against RSL.
So I have questioned the officials in the last couple matches who simply seem to have been disinterested in making calls, and tonight in just the 7th minute of the match controversy returns as Fabian Espindola gets behind Rafa Marquez and is pushed in the back on the edge of area but no call is made. Now there was contact and the official at that point really missed a call, either it is a PK and a card as Rafa was the last Red Bull player, or it was a dive worthy of a card, but no call was made. Again in this match we saw a number of questionable decisions by the official and I will be honest that they went both ways, I am confused why Fabi wasn't carded for clear dissent in the second half.
I have to say that I was a bit taken back when Jason Kreis put 17 yr old Luis Gil at the top of the diamond in the attacking mid role tonight, it is something many of us have wondered about since Luis did such good work when he was forced to play up top. I thought he did very sell considering the guys he was playing against, here is a young kid taking it to Joel Lindpere, Theirry Henry, Solli, and Ballouchy. In the past we have questioned his hesitency to take shots, as he has chosen to create chances for more "senior" players, tonight he took the shot and put it past Rost who could only watch as it went past him. I just think that tonight a 17 yr old send a message about being willing to work as hard as anyone on the pitch.
a few more thoughts after the jump:
So for me it was a easy call for man of the match, Kyle Beckerman who had assists on both of the first half goals, but who was tasked with no only disrupting the Red Bulls midfield, but who did so with relative ease. Now I believe great credit goes to everyone on the RSL roster tonight, they applied immense pressure on the ball and forced New York to play very negative all night long. Kyle had 58 successful passes and just 6 unsuccessful ones, now that is impressive to me. I talked with Kyle as he rushed out of the arena tonight, and reminded him about our conversation about the USMNT and we laughed as we both said it was "amazing what a change can bring about", I hope Kyle the best as he gets ready for a huge match against Mexico.
You know I was a bit vocal in my criticism of Fabian the last couple of matches, and while I didn't like his cheap shot on Marquez in the second half, or his disrespect of the official, I do have to say that he was a huge presence tonight. He applied amazing pressure on the Red Bull defenders all night, he forced them to make mistakes and the helped the team out in a major way. He and Sabo both were amazing in how much they impacted the match by forcing the midfield players to come back and help the defense deal with the pressure.
I thought our defenders were simply stellar tonight, and while I was a bit puzzled why Tony Beltran who has played so well of late wasn't in the lineup, I thought it was probably a size issue as the Red Bulls are a very tall and physical team. Yet both Chris Wingert and Robbie Russell played very well in the match, they kept their position, they fought for every ball near them, they both came forward in support of the attack, it simply was a night when they could seem to do no wrong. In support of them were Chris Schuler and Nat Borchers, who simply impressed me all night long, it was Nat's goal (he should have like 5 this year) that got the scoring going but there were some very big plays by both of them on defense against that top scoring team in the league.
I said a key to winning was to limit NYRB to 3-4 shots on goal, RSL did much better than that as they allowed just a single shot on goal all night and that was in the first 10 minutes of the match. They made it easy for Nick to get the clean sheet.
Folks if you missed the match, you missed a very special performance by RSL and perhaps the most complete match they have played since that March win against LA.
I have to believe that the back to back loses have served as a reminder that there are no givens in MLS, that you must play hard for 90 minutes every time you are on the pitch, and tonight it was that collective team effort that took the high priced talent of the Red Bulls and made them quit. Next up is a road stretch that will be tough but if RSL can play like they did on Saturday night, well we should expect to see some very good matches.
OFF MY SOAPBOX