Red Bulls fall five minutes short of upset

Posted on 01 November 2008 by ASN Staff

A makeshift New York Red Bulls starting lineup that did not include its biggest mid-season acquisitions almost pulled off a massive upset of defending MLS champion Houston Dynamo at Giants Stadium Saturday afternoon.

But after trailing for nearly the entire second half, Kei Kamara scored the 1-1 equalizer for Houston in the 85th minute off a pass from Stuart Holden. Ironically, both Holden and Kamara were late substitutions by Houston head coach Greg Kinnear. Juan Pablo Angel put the Red Bulls up in the 48th minute on a pass from John Wolyniec–another surprise starter for New York.

Luke Sassano, one of several surprise starters

After a lackluster (to put it mildly) showing in the team’s season finale at Chicago, New York head coach Juan Carlos Osorio went with a starting 11 that included two rookies (Diego Jimenez, Luke Sassano) and three second-year players (Sinisa Ubiparipovic, Andrew Boyens, Danny Cepero) who had never started a playoff game. The move nearly worked, as Red Bull played their best game in at least a month, though New York fans will likely be second-guessing Osorio for only using one substitution (Juan Pietravallo, who replaced Ubiparipovic around minute 80).

“I think we probably did just enough to win the game today,” said Osorio in the postgame press conference. “Very proud of the boys today. In the end I think there more positives than negatives from this game.”

Asked about the surprising starting lineup, Osorio said it was largely due to individual player performance in the Chicago game. “There were players not doing their jobs and I though that was undisciplined so I took them out of the starting line. Simple as that.” Though he did not mention Gabriel Cichero or Juan Pietravallo by name, Osorio praised the players he chose to replace them in the starting lineup. “I’m very pleased today with Luke Sassano’s job and Sinisa’s job,” he said.

Sassano said he found out early in the week about his start and was tasked mainly with holding the midfield and limiting Dwayne DeRosario’s chances. “Obviously a very good player,” Sassano said of the Canadian international. “I just tried to stay with him and make sure I could eliminate as many touches as he gets on the ball…knock him around a little bit.”

A tightly-contested and dirty first half at first brought to mind the scoreless Thursday night snooze fest between New England and Chicago. But the game came alive after a vicious foul by Nate Jaqua on Andrew Boyens. The foul, which went unpunished by referee Kevin Stott, led to a brief scuffle at midfield as players pushed and shoved at each other. Boyens lay motionless on the turf for several minutes but did not need to leave the game.

The New Zealander did not appear to have any hard feelings after the game. “I don’t think he was meaning to do anything,” Boyens said of Jaqua’s play. “When there’s something that tough there’s always a little bit of talk afterwards.”

For now the Red Bulls can take comfort in their solid performance before the teams meet again at Houston’s Robertson Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 9. “Nobody gave anything for our chances after the Chicago performance and I think we bounced back,” said Dave van den Bergh. “I thought there was a team out there that fought for every ball and fought for each other and I think that was the biggest difference.”

Osorio agreed. “If we keep this team spirit and we take this competitiveness to their place then we have a chance,” he said.

Match Facts

Houston Dynamo vs. New York Red Bulls
2008 MLS Playoffs, First Round, first leg
November 01, 2008 — Giants Stadium

Scoring Summary:
NY — Juan Pablo Angel 1 (John Wolyniec 1) 48
HOU — Kei Kamara 1 (Stuart Holden 1) 85

Houston Dynamo — Pat Onstad, Richard Mulrooney, Bobby Boswell, Eddie Robinson, Wade Barrett, Brian Mullan (Stuart Holden 71), Ricardo Clark, Dwayne De Rosario (Geoff Cameron 83), Brad Davis, Nate Jaqua (Kei Kamara 66), Brian Ching.

Substitutes Not Used: Corey Ashe, Tony Caig, Patrick Ianni, Craig Waibel

New York Red Bulls — Danny Cepero, Andrew Boyens, Chris Leitch, Kevin Goldthwaite, Diego Jimenez, Dane Richards, Luke Sassano, Sinisa Ubiparipovic (Juan Pietravallo 77), Dave van den Bergh, John Wolyniec, Juan Pablo Angel.
Substitutes Not Used: Terry Boss, Gabriel Cichero, Macoumba Kandji, Gordon Kljestan, Jorge Rojas, David Roth

Misconduct Summary:
NY — Dane Richards (caution; Reckless Foul) 29
HOU — Brian Mullan (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 29
NY — Juan Pablo Angel (caution; Reckless Foul) 37

Referee: Kevin Stott
Referee’s Assistants: Thomas Supple; Rob Fereday
4th official: Michael Kennedy
Time of game: 1:50
Attendance: 11,578
Weather: Cloudy -and- 63 degrees

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