Bulls edge Fire in Red Bull Arena regular season opener

Posted on 28 March 2010 by Nathaniel E. Baker

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. The New York Red Bulls weren’t terrible in their regular season home opener Saturday night, but their performance wasn’t nearly as polished as it was in the Red Bull Arena “grand opening” against Santos a week earlier. In fact, the Red Bulls probably weren’t even better than the visiting Chicago Fire. Head coach Hans Backe admitted as much in his postgame press conference (which can be listened to in its entirety here). Also be sure to check out the photo gallery.

Juan Pablo Angel, the team’s captain, also said the team “could have played a lot better” and saw ample room for improvement. “There’s still a lot of stuff to work on. Our passing wasn’t as good as it normally is, but when you win and know you still have to correct things it’s easier. When you lose, your confidence drops. That was our problem last year.”

New York will gladly take the three points, especially against a team that has had their number for several years and especially in their first official game at Red Bull Arena. The game’s only goal came in the 40th minute on a terrific volley from Joel Lindpere. It was the second goal in as many games for the former Estonian international, here seen celebrating the tally:

Lindpere celebrates the go-ahead goal in the 40th minute ©Scott Marsh/ASN

Backe said jokingly he didn’t know the left-footed Lindpere had a right foot. When told of this after the match, he replied “no I don’t have. It’s for walking.”

Chicago nearly went ahead on a bicycle kick by Brian McBride that bounced past Bouna Coundoul, who was off his line, and off the left post in the 23rd minute. “I came out, I had the ball and I was backing up,” Condoul recalled after the match. “When he bicycle kicked I thought the ball would go out of bounds. But as a goalie that’s why I don’t like to gamble…the ball seemed to be heading out but all of a sudden it hit the post.” It was the only time Condoul looked at all shaky in the game; he would come back with some stellar saves in the second half.

The goalkeeper also repeated the familiar refrain of singing the new ground’s praises. “When we’re home, the fans, everybody’s behind us, we play with pride,” he said. But at times in the first half, with his back to the Empire Supporters Club, this was almost too much of a good thing. “Once in awhile it’s kind of tough to communicate with defenders…I can yell, tell them left and right, it’s difficult [to hear]”

Player ratings

From a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest:

Condoul – 7
The McBride play was bad and very nearly costly but he made good for it in the second half. Venturing out of his goal was never Condoul’s game anyway; he’s essentially a pure shot stopper who is most comfortable (and effective) making acrobatic saves off his line. At that he’s one of the best in the game.

Hall – 7
Pretty much shut the right side of the field down. Had a few nice forays into the attacking zone as well, though he seemed a bit tentative in that area. But that’s fine for now; Hall’s defensive skills are at a premium and he seems far more comfortable at right back than he did last year.

Petke – 8
Didn’t spot any mistakes from this guy. Played with poise and leadership; particularly strong in the air though one or two of those headers might have been better off placed elsewhere. But that’s hard to do in the heat of battle and anyway a minor critique. Appears to be playing a full decade younger than his actual age (34). To think a lot of people had given up on this guy at the end of last year?

Ream – 7

Another strong outing, though we did spot a few mistakes this time out. Was beaten by his man pretty badly on one play in the first half and a pass or two turned into turnovers that were very nearly costly. But otherwise very solid and not just defensively but also as a ball distributor. It really is amazing how this guy dropped so far in the draft.

Miller – 8
Played very well. Was a linchpin for attacks and did well in keeping the ball moving. Solid defensively. May have actually been the best player on the pitch.

Borman – 6.5
Did well at times, especially in the first half. Had some nice passes that led to scoring opportunities. But also turned the ball over several times and many of his runs went nowhere. If he could develop his right foot he’d be a dangerous player, but we’ve been saying this for two years now…

Lindpere – 8

The goal, which ended up as the game winner, was superb. Also had some nice runs and a few quality passes into space. Need to see more of this. As he gets more comfortable with MLS’ style (which by the way seems to suit a physical player like him perfectly) we will.

Ubiparipovic – 7
Another solid game from another player that had been written off by many fans and pundits alike. Has a strong technical game and sees the field very well. In this game his role was more defensive due to Robinson’s injury. If he was a little more aggressive it would surely help the team develop scoring chances.

Richards – 4
Sadly, Dane Richards seems to have relapsed to…Dane Richards. The player from last week’s Santos match (the same guy who blew everybody away in the 2008 postseason) has apparently disappeared again. There were several times when he had space on the wing, but chose to put his head down and try to sprint past his defender. That hasn’t worked since his rookie season and it isn’t going to start working now. Even less excusable was his decision to shoot from a tight angle when Juan Pablo Angel was wide open to his immediate left–this on a play in the second half that would have put the game on ice. This team has plenty of guys who can play right midfield and will gladly do so, and be far better than Richards. Time for Backe to give one of them a chance.

Angel – 4.5
The Colombian striker looked out of sorts. Perhaps he is still feeling the effects of the Julian de Guzman tackle in the preseason. The service was mainly poor but there were two chances from point blank range that Red Bull fans are used to seeing this guy bury. We fear the effects of age are beginning to take their toll.

Kandji – 4.5
Interestingly enough he looked more comfortable after Backe switched him to left midfield. Mac needs to lighten up on the stepovers and backheels and go back to fundamentals. Make runs, move the ball (which we know he has the talent to do well) or simply put his head down and bullrush past defenders. This stuff isn’t working.

Match Facts

New York Red Bulls 1, Chicago Fire 0
March 27, 2010 – Red Bull Arena; Harrison, NJ

Scoring Summary:
NY: Joel Lindpere 1 (unassisted) 40’

Disciplinary Summary:
None

Lineups:
New York Red Bulls (1-0-0) – Bouna Coundoul (GK), Roy Miller, Tim Ream, Mike Petke, Jeremy Hall, Danleigh Borman (John Wolyniec 71’), Joel Lindpere, Sinisa Ubiparipovic, Dane Richards, Macoumba Kandji (Tony Tchani 90’), Juan Pablo Angel

Substitutes Not Used: Greg Sutton, Andrew Boyens, Luke Sassano, Austin da Luz, Juan Agudelo

Chicago Fire (0-1-0) – Andrew Dykstra, Tim Ward, Wilman Conde, C.J. Brown, Mike Banner, Julio Martinez (Collins John 54’), Peter Lowry, Logan Pause (Baggio Husidic 61’), Marco Pappa, Patrick Nyarko, Brian McBride (Justin Mapp 79’)

Substitutes Not Used: Sean Johnson, Krzysztof Krol, Steven Kinney, Corben Bone

Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Referee’s Assistants: Craig Lowry, Eric Boria
4th Referee: Jeff Gontarek
Attendance: 24,572

4 Comments For This Post

  1. Wes C Says:

    Dead on with Kandji and Richards. Poor performance from both .. clear cut opportunities at goal, as well as play making chances that were either hesitated on (see under Kandji dead center in box and turned over) or completely wiffed (see under Richards forcing crosses into the box TO NO ONE). The ref had an awful game as well .. missed tons of shouts for RBNY, and admittedly a few for the Fire as well.

  2. ASN Editorial Says:

    I totally forgot to mention the referee. He was atrocious. There were several plays where a player was literally shoved or bodychecked off the ball but he waived play on. It's amazing the game didn't get completely out of control. I'm all for letting guys play but not when it turns into a hackfest.

  3. ASN Editorial Says:

    I totally forgot to mention the referee. He was atrocious. There were several plays where a player was literally shoved or bodychecked off the ball but he waived play on. It's amazing the game didn't get completely out of control. I'm all for letting guys play but not when it turns into a hackfest.

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