Friday NY Gaffer: Rafa, Henry draw mixed reviews
New York's 2-2 tie against FC Dallas on Thursday night was another chance for the Red Bulls to make another statement to the league against one of MLS’ most consistent and hottest teams in FC Dallas.
But despite being up a man for roughly two thirds of the match, New York couldn’t parlay the advantage into anything substantive, falling behind midway through the first half before equalizing via an own goal.
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The Red Bulls have played up a man three times this season, and won just one of those matches.
Four things to take from Thursday night’s 2-2 draw with FC Dallas:
1. Rafa Isn’t Automatic – The belief by New York fans and perhaps their players is that you throw Rafa Márquez on the field and he will be an automatic standout, but Thursday night’s performance was anything but scintillating.
Hampered by an ankle injury suffered last weekend in the 3-1 home win over Colorado, Márquez looked a step slow and timid, and his usually crisp passing left something to be desired. His injury seemed to slow him and the entire defense down, especially in the second half.
2. Quiet Night for Henry – In terms of his play, it was a sleeper of a match for Thierry Henry, who as a scorer or as a provider looked a touch anemic. Henry rarely got the ball in dangerous places, but his runs and movement didn’t seem to link with the rest of the team.
The Red Bulls’ formation, however, essentially placed him as a lone striker up top, so maybe it was the fact that he was absorbing the entire attention of the FC Dallas back line. On the flip side, New York were up a man for 60 minutes, and you expect Henry to get available more in that scenario.
3. The Henry/Hartman Episode – It was difficult to watch Henry try to kick the ball into the back of the net following Mehdi Ballouchy’s equalizer, only to make some sort of contact, even inadvertently, with FC Dallas keeper Kevin Hartman. It appears that Hartman’s MCL injury was a result of the two players going for the ball at the same time – Henry to make a celebratory kick into the back of the net and Hartman to clear the ball to midfield.
“Basically, from I what I see, right after they scored the goal, they both go to kick the ball at the same time,” said referee Hilario Grajeda. “They never connect knees or anything. They just nailed the ball at the same time. That was pretty much it, yeah.”
4. Ballouchy’s Debut – After acquiring Ballouchy in a trade with Colorado earlier this week, Backe ran the playmaker out as a withdrawn striker in a morphed 4-4-2 formation.
“I was actually more of an attacking mid,” said Ballouchy, whose pace and movement from a high position stretched the FC Dallas back line all night long. His only flaw so far since arriving to Red Bulls camp midweek?
“I still have to think to remember their names,” Ballouchy confessed.
Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012