Red Bulls win second straight, eye sixth place

Posted on 31 August 2009 by arozsa

Richards got the game winner

After not winning a game since May, the New York Red Bulls have now won two straight after a 1-0 victory over the defending champion Columbus Crew Saturday night at the Meadowlands. Dane Richards scored in his second straight game for the home side as they climbed within five points of an improbable basement escape in the Eastern Conference with six games to play.

It may be too late to matter, but even a modest winning streak is a welcome tonic for a long-suffering franchise toiling through one of the worst non-expansion seasons in leauge history.

“Very happy to get another win,” said Interim Coach Richie Williams. “We haven’t had a whole lot this year so I’m proud of the guys.”

Columbus, still reeling from a 5-0 Champions League meltdown in Mexico midweek, rested key attacking starters Robbie Rogers, Alejandro Moreno and Guillermo Barros Schelotto.

“Jason (Garey) and Lenhart are very good players,” said Crew head coach Robert Warzycha. “They were a little bit fresher than the other guys, that’s why I started them.”

However complementary their manager might have been, all three of the rested starters made late cameos, but were unable to provide the final touch the visitors lacked all night.

The clearly travel worn Crew, along with with the play-out-the-string mentality of the Red Bulls and typical drudgery of the concrete-like surface at Giants Stadium, made for a game that was destined to be mired in midfield. The chances were few and far between in the first half, but as the Crew threw men forward for their numerous set piece opportunities, the space began to open up for New York on the counter attack.

Richards broke out in the 53rd on such a chance, but was unable to find his teammates running the channels and his tame effort from distance was blocked. He made no mistake on a similar circumstance 10 minutes later, after picking up a deflected cross from the Crew’s Frankie Hejduk. With no teammates in support and one man to beat, he side-stepped his defender and slotted past Columbus reserve goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum, who was caught halfway off his line.

“I was just trying to get it under control,” said Richards, who bumped his league tally to three with the goal.

“I waited until he backed up into the box and I took him one-on-one and finished it.”

Hejduk, who was unable to recover on the play after getting tangled up with Juan Pablo Angel, earned a yellow card for protesting what he seemingly felt was a deliberate attempt by Angel to take him out of the play. The Columbus defender declined to speak with reporters after the game.

New York, now seemingly restored in confidence during the most difficult season in recent memory, plays host to the struggling Kansas City Wizards next week. A third straight victory would put the interim Williams’ win tally on par with the departed Juan Carlos Osorio’s total for the season. Additionally, it would give the Red Bulls a fighting chance of finishing the season in something other than last place; something that would surely give weight to Williams’ application for the full-time position.

Despite all the nuances, there was no mistaking the biggest motivating factor.

“I don’t want to be remembered in history for being part of the worst team in the MLS,” said Angel.

Meanwhile, in the land of things that actually matter for this season, the Crew gave up a golden opportunity to move into the pole position for their second straight Supporters’ Shield after Houston and Chicago also lost this weekend. Their brutal September schedule continues next week with a trip to the ultimate nightmare CONCACAF venue, Estadio Saprissa, followed by a weekend league fixture at Chicago.

New York Player Ratings

Coundoul – 5 –
Didn’t have to make any big saves, but made things plenty interesting by repeated flapping at crosses. If Schelotto were given more than 5 minutes to work with, he would have been promptly punished.

Petke – 7 –
Typically well suited to match up against physical forwards, and did not disappoint, rendering Steven Lenhart (the love-child of Bill Laimbeer and Kurt Rambis) ineffective all night.

Boyens – 6 –
Steered clear of the gaffes that had plagued him from time to time, and so he gets a solid rating. Lost track of Jason Garey a few times in the first half, but was fortunate that his finishing was atrocious.

Borman – 5 –
Struggled with Ekpo early on, but tightened up as the game went on. Made a crucial clearance off the line in the first half. Did not offer much going forward.

Johnson – 6 –
Solid down the right, and presented the best service on the squad. Needs to keep his composure out there, though.

Stammler – 5 –
Looks thoroughly worn out, and spent most of the day chasing the play. Looking forward to seeing this guy play on a grass field day in and day out next year.

Ubiparipovic – 5 –
Chased and worked alongside Stammler. Had some neat connecting play, but also took a few wrong angles and had a few bad giveaways.

Richards – 6 –
Got the game winner, perhaps even despite himself, after spurning several chances. His teammates were as thrilled for him after the goal as they were frustrated after he repeatedly missed them in space.

Rojas – 4 –
Was this guy even on the field? Pulled for Kandji early in the second half, and the difference was palpable. Looks to be on the first plane back to Venezuela when the season ends.

Wolyniec – 7 –
Made himself a constant nuisance up top and was unlucky not to score after absolutely tattooing the near post in the second half. A savvy, effective veteran who is willing to play third or fourth fiddle on an MLS is a player that New York, whomever is calling the shots, would be insane not to bring back.

Angel – 7 –
Perhaps he’s not the DP caliber 20 goal scorer he was when he came into the league, but gave 100% for the cause, which usually meant coming back to midfield to get the ball and get whacked. Get this guy on a grass surface, with another high caliber forward beside him, and 15 goals is a possibility.

Subs
Kandji – 7 – Impacted the game immediately when he came on, streaking up and down the left side. Spent the rest of the game hitting the turf to mixed success.

Sassano – NR – Came on late to spell the midfield.

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