Heading into this game, Bradley Wright-Phillips and the New York midfield was mentioned by several members of DC United including their coach. Both Wright-Phillips and that dynamic group of midfielders came as advertised. McCarty, Felipe,Sam, Kljestan, and Zizo took over the game and held it hostage nearly from start to finish. They were able to control the tempo and keep the ball stuck on United’s side of the field. Wright-Phillips is just special, for someone who is number one on every opponent’s list of players to contain, he routinely found a way to get behind the defense and get the ball in space. He scored the game’s first goal and assisted on the second, the Red Bulls went on to win their home opener 2-0.
Red Bulls started fast, Wright-Phillips & midfield applying pressure to DC back line. Keeping the ball on that end for much of the first four minutes of the game. The Black-and-Red were able to create a few chances off of their strong defense, by forcing turnovers. A perfect example being when the Red Bulls turned it over at midfield and DeLeon had a chance to push it toward the New York goal. The play roke down when he chose to play the ball outside to a teammate but the pass was easy for the defender to get a foot on. Had DeLeon kept the ball and played it inside, or even taken a shot, the result would have been better for DC.
The first half truly belonged to the Red Bulls, they were able to pressure United all half. Their midfield dictated the terms of the game early on, their pressure and activity forced DC to bring their forwards back to assist in the effort to defend. Which affected their ability to counter attack, they were able to create a few chances but didn’t finish any of them.
The Red Bulls were able to create chance after chance, their midfield’s ability to rotate and make runs caused trouble for the United back line. New York’s three midfielders seemed interchangeable at times as they poked and prodded the opponent’s defense. Bradley Wright-Phillips played a large role in that as well, with him demanding that much attention, it forces the defense to stay home and give a little bit more space to those New York midfielders and they took advantage of it.
On the first goal of the game, Dax played a beautiful long ball that split Boswell and Birnbaum, Wright-Phillips timed his run well as he accelerated past the two centre backs. His first touch was to settle the ball, that touch brought the ball closer to him and helped him elude the charging Birnbaum as well. Before Boswell could assist his teammate, Bradley fired a shot to the left corner that Bill Hamid just couldn’t get to. It was a brilliant, brilliant goal.
The second half was quiet at the start as United started to squeeze down on the space they were giving the Red Bulls in the first half. Then, the New York started to key their attack through Wright-Phillips. Going from goal scorer to facilitator, making plays for Sam and Richards. Sam was able to capitalize on one of those opportunities off of one of the many DC turnovers on the day.
The Black-and-Red had just taken the ball from a Red Bull attacker, Sean Franklin made a great 1-on-1 stop. He got the ball to Arnaud, who was immediately trapped by two Red Bulls with their high pressure. The ball was played to Wright-Phillips who was in the middle of the field, just outside the box. He played the ball to the right, the cutting Sam finished near post past Hamid to put the Red Bulls up 2-0.
United created a couple of more chances late in the game, but just couldn’t finish. Arnaud made a great run late in the game, was given a ball into the box and was brought down. This was in the 86th minute, Pontius was selected to take the penalty kick. It was a pretty bad touch as the ball sailed over the goal, placing a shot on target could of at least resulted in a rebound.
The theme of the game for the Black-and-Red was turnovers, they kept losing the ball on their end of the field. Couple that with the pressure of the Red Bulls and DC found themselves in a world of trouble. While it’s very early in the season and the Black-and-Red is far from at full strength, lazy passes and turnovers are unacceptable no matter who’s on the field.
- DCU needs a forward paired with Arrieta that has more of a “forward’s” mentality, meaning someone willing and ready to shoot. Olsen switched Rolfe and Pontius midway through the game, having Rolfe up top with Arrieta and Pontius drop back to midfield. It was a better pairing, yielding several scoring chances
- Turnovers, turnovers. DCU has to take ‘time’ when possessing the ball. More often than not, already made a decision to pass before even possessing the ball
- Must make runs, Arrieta does a good job anchoring, Players must make runs off of him and give him a chance to create, then finish said opportunities
- Health, interested in seeing what United looks like at full strength. These issues may very well be non-issues once those missing players are back on the field
- The Red Bulls are a dangerous group, love the way their midfield plays and Wright-Phillips is one of the best scorers in the league. Had 27 last season, eager to see how many he nets this year