Revs claw out 1-1 draw at Swamp

Posted on 29 March 2009 by Nathaniel E. Baker

Try as they might, the New York Red Bulls just can’t beat the New England Revolution. Since the team’s 2006 reincarnation as “FC Energy Drink,” New York has not managed to defeat their rivals to the north in a regular season game. Saturday night at Giants Stadium, they came about as close as they ever will, surrendering the game-tying goal on a defensive foul-up that brought to life some of the franchise’s most painful memories–and perhaps resurrected demons thought exorcised by last season’s memorable playoff run.

Leading 1-0, the home side was done in by a desperate long ball in the 90th minute that went over defender Kevin Goldthwaite. Red Bulls keeper Danny Cepero had compromised himself by coming out past the penalty spot to challenge the ball, leaving an empty net for New England striker Kenny Mansally to volley the ball into.

The goal was not without some controversy. Red Bulls striker Macoumba Kandji had injured himself on the previous play and was laying by the Revs’ endline. Standard procedure would have been for New England, once it spotted the injured player, to put the ball into touch so Kandji could receive treatment. Instead, Shalrie Joseph launched the “hail Mary pass” that led to Mansally’s equalizer. The Red Bulls, for their part, did not seem to fault New England for playing on as much as they blamed themselves for not making their opponents–and the referees–aware of the situation. “I thought that was naivete,” Red Bulls head coach Juan Carlos Osorio said of the play. “You have to be cleverer than that. It’s the last minute of the game, Mac…when he was down, instead of our official going to look at him, Dominic [Oduro] just rushes back and we just aren’t prepared to defend the long ball.”

Kandji said he should have stayed down rather than try to get back into the play, as the referee was urging him to do. “The ref kinda helped me up fast and the next thing I know, it’s a goal,” he recalled. “I think [New England] should have kicked the ball out of bounds and I think I should have stayed down longer. Even if the ref comes and tries to help me up, I should have stayed down.” The Senegalese forward said he had learned from his mistake. “A tough lesson to learn but those little mistakes we have to make up to make us better,” he said.

While the team’s play as a whole was vastly improved from opening night in Seattle, it still has not scored a goal this season by its own hand; the 35th minute go-ahead goal was an own-goal by Jay Heaps on a cross from his former teammate Khano Smith. Kandji, probably the best Red Bull on the night, made it happen, dribbling free and playing a perfectly-paced ball into the area for Smith to run on to. Smith was looking for Angel but Heaps played the cross into his own net.

Both coaches felt their teams were hard done by the result. “I gotta be honest with ya, I thought we deserved to win the game,” said Revs head coach Steve Nicol. “We created some great chances but never took them.” Osorio, while admitting the Revs “had a couple of good chances in the first half,” nevertheless insisted his team was better in the second and “basically gave that point away.”

Osorio switched from the 4-3-3 formation in the Seattle game to a 4-4-2 with Kandji and Juan Pablo Angel as the strikers. Kandji seemed to prefer being an attacker in the 4-4-2 more than the winger position he played in Seattle. “If they put me up top, I can run back and forth everywhere, I can help defend because it’s a free role,” he said.

The role suits him as well. Kandji is simply not a winger, least of all a left wing. Not only does he have great control on the ball, but his 6’4″ frame makes him a better target for crosses than creator of them. He reads the game extremely well and, once he spots his teammates’ runs, has the passing skills to put the ball into space for them. This was on display several times Saturday night, most notably in the Red Bulls’ first-half goal and in the 75th minute when he found Angel on the right side of the six yard box, where the Colombian’s shot narrowly missed the far post.

So Kandji needs to be in the center of the pitch, where he can see a lot of touches and create chances as well as finish them. Come to think of it, maybe the 24-year old is the creative attacking midfielder the Red Bulls have been searching for?

“He played really well, he held the ball well, he created chances for us,” Osorio said of Kandji. “Perhaps too many back heels to my liking but we’ll sort that out.”

The biggest surprise to Osorio’s starting lineup was the starter at left back, Danleigh Borman. “Because Mansally and Kheli Dube are quick strikers, I wanted a quick defender and a tall defender who can compete in the air,” said Osorio about his decision. While the latter player sounds like it may describe Mike Petke, Osorio seemed to prefer a left-footer for that position, even though it was in central defense. “Kevin is my only left-footer so that was the upper hand for him,” he said of Goldthwaite. “And obviously Carlos Mendes is the quicker of the two.”

How did Borman do in his new role? “In my opinion Danleigh Borman was our best player in the first half,” said Osorio. “So I’m pleased with that decision.”

Where do the Red Bulls go from here? To Chicago, next Sunday, to play the Chicago Fire, unbeaten in their first two games of the season. The last time they played at Toyota Park, New York was embarrassed in a 5-2 beatdown that very nearly ended their season. Next week’s game will be dissected in due time. First, this week’s player ratings:

New York Red Bulls Player Ratings (1-10 with 10 being highest)

Cepero – 6 – Bailed the team out big-time in the first half but shaky on crosses. Also not without fault on the Revs goal.

Borman – 7 – Did well playing an entirely new position, but was not challenged all that much. Still, nice job.

Goldthwaite – 5 – Played better than he did in Seattle (which doesn’t say anything) but still not good–or even average. A few nice headers in the first half but too much ball-watching. And of course the game-tying goal is largely on him.

Mendes – 5.5 – Didn’t always pick up his man quickly enough (or at all, even). Some stupid fouls. Unnecessary yellow card.

Hall – 7 – Another strong showing. This boy’s got skills. Appears to be particularly strong in the air. Was beaten on one ball in the first half but otherwise solid throughout.

Smith – 6.5 – Did well in the first half. Had some nice passes and created problems for the Revs defense. Disappeared after half time.

Ubiparipovic – 6.5 – Several good moves, particularly in the first half. His job duties were mainly defensive, but he can factor in the attack as well. Some of his passes were a little heavy though. Also a bit selfish at times.

Sassano – 6 – Barely noticeable, which is okay seeing as he too was mainly tasked with a defensive assignment. Nearly scored the game-winner in stoppage time.

Richards – 6 – Had a few moments but need to see more of him.

Kandji – 8.5 – In my view the best player on the pitch. Showed great ball control, strength on the ball, vision and creativity, creating nearly all of the team’s chances. Could be a very dangerous player if he is used properly (i.e. not as a left wing) and gains confidence.

Angel – 6 – Didn’t see enough of him in the first half. Did the most of the few chances he got. Is he doing enough to show for balls? Appeared frustrated with Richards at times.

Match Facts

New York Red Bulls 1, New England Revolution 1
March 28, 2009 – Giants Stadium, E. Rutherford, N.J.

Scoring Summary:
NY- Own Goal (35′)
NE – Kenny Mansally 1 (Shalrie Joseph 1) 90′

New York Red Bulls — Danny Ceparo, Jeremy Hall, Kevin Goldthwaite, Carlos
Mendes, Danliegh Borman, Khano Smith (Doninic Oduro 77′), Luke Sassano,
Sinisi Ubiparipovic, Dane Richards, Macoumba Kandki, Juan Pablo Angel

Substitutes Not Used:Alec Dufty, Mike Petke, Matthew Mbuta, Juan
Pietravallo, Nick Zimmerman, John Wolyniec.

New England — Brad Knighton, Kevin Alston, Chris Tierney, Jay Heaps,
Darrius Barnes, Wells Thompson, Shalrie Joseph, Jeff Larentowicz, Sainey
Nyassi (Amaechi Igwe 46′), Kenny Mansally, Kheli Dube.

Substitutes Not Used: Zack Simmons, Rob Valentino, Pat Phelan, Michael
Videira, Argenis Fernandez

Referee: Alex Prus
Referee’s Assistants: Greg Barkey, Nate Clement
4th official: Jorge Gonsalez
Time of game: 1:50
Attendance: 12,462
Weather: Cloudy, 50 degrees

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