Bradenton, FL (February 21, 2015) – The New York Red Bulls earned a hard fought 1-0 win over USL side Oklahoma City Energy FC on Saturday afternoon, courtesy of a 10th minute goal from unsigned draft pick Manolo Sanchez.
The Red Bulls got off to a fast start, applying pressure early with a front four of Sanchez and veterans Peguy Luyindula, Bradley Wright-Phillips and Dane Richards, who is back with the Red Bulls as a trialist.
That sustained pressure paid off in the 10th minute and the Red Bulls were able to capitalize. Following an Energy FC goal kick, Richards forced a turnover to Wright-Phillips and quickly transitioned into attack on the right. The Englishman took a strong first touch in-stride, cutting down the right side as he drew attention from the defense and was able to drive a low cross along the six-yard box for Sanchez to finish at the back post.
New York had a chance to double the lead less than 10 minutes later, when Wright-Phillips was able to play Luyindula on, again down the right side, but the veteran midfielder’s cross carried just out of reach of Sanchez.
Energy FC’s best chance of the first half came in the 36th minute, when forward Chuy Sanchez found space between the Red Bulls’ center backs at the top of the 18-yard box, turned toward goal with his first touch, and fired a shot that Red Bulls goalkeeper Kyle Reynish had to push over the bar.
Just before the half Richards showcased his speed, running onto a loose ball and cutting down the wing before spotting a run from Wright-Phillips. Richards’ pass deflected away from the Red Bulls’ striker, who would have found himself alone inside the penalty area.
At the half, Wright-Phillips was replaced by 18-year-old Cameroonian striker Anatole Abang, and left back Anthony Wallace came off for another trialist, Jamaican Kemar Lawrence.
New York looked to have another goal just after the start of the second half, when Richards dummied a pass from Shawn McLaws, letting the ball pass him for Abang, who put a low strike just inside the right post, but the played was deemed to be offside.
The Red Bulls continued to push the game and had several quality scoring chances in the second half. In the 58th minute Luyindula held up the ball on the edge of the 18, drawing several defenders before sliding a clever ball to Lade, who drove a low shot on target.
The highlight of second-half chances came in the 75th minute when rookie midfielder Sean Davis played a perfectly weighted ball into space for Richards, who beat his defender to the end line and put in a cross to the near post, finding the head of Abang. Abang’s glancing header flashed across the face of goal, requiring a quality save from Oklahoma City ‘keeper Evan Newton.
Reynish unofficially made two saves before being replaced by Santiago Castano in the 61st minute. Castano was not tested as the two combined for the shutout.
“It’s important for the full group to continue to understand how we want to play,” said Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch, speaking of a lineup that included several trialists and young players. “Anytime we step on the field we try to make sure we have certain starting points and fundamentally stay true to what we want to do and what we want to be. There’s some good things, then there’s plenty of things to work on. For a lot of our young guys, we’re trying to put them to the test and now we’ll see how they respond. All in all, a good day.”
With the win New York climbs to the top of its group in the IMG Suncoast Pro Classic tournament. Coupled with Wednesday’s draw with Danish side HB Koge, New York claims four points, ahead of Toronto FC (3), Oklahoma City (3) and KB Koge (1).
The Red Bulls are back in action on Wednesday, February 25th when they face Toronto FC in the final group-play game of the tournament. A win or draw would see New York into the championship game on Saturday, February 28th. The contest against Toronto is set for 7:30 pm from IMG Stadium in Bradenton, Florida, and will be streamed live on NewYorkRedBulls.com.
- NY: Manolo Sanchez (Bradley Wright-Phillips) 10’
- Kyle Reynish (Santiago Castano, 61’), Anthony Wallace* (Kemar Lawrence*, 45’), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado*, Karl Ouimette*, Connor Lade, Leo Stolz (Shawn McLaws^, 32’), Sean Davis, Manolo Sanchez^, Peguy Luyindula (Anderson Gabriel Cajano$, 65’), Dane Richards* (Sal Zizzo, 77’), Bradley Wright-Phillips (Anatole Abang*, 45’)
* denotes trialist, ^ denotes unsigned 2015 draft pick, $ denotes guest player
- New York’s starting XI featured just three players that were with the club in 2014: Bradley Wright-Phillips, Peguy Luyindula, and Connor Lade.
- New York’s starting XI included four trialists: Anthony Wallace, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Karl Ouimette, and Dane Richards, and one unsigned draft pick in Manolo Sanchez.
- First-round draft pick Leo Stolz left the game in the 32nd minute with mild shin splints and was replaced by unsigned pick Shawn McLaws. McLaws entered to play left back, causing Connor Lade to slide into the holding midfield role with fellow homegrown signing Sean Davis.
- Dane Richards was removed from the game in the 77th minute due to cramping, and was replaced by Sal Zizzo.