It is widely accepted that New York’s 2-1 win over FC Dallas at Red Bull Arena on Saturday was a game that was for the taking for the visitors. Holding the edge in nearly every offensive category, FC Dallas failed to put New York away time after time as goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul played perhaps the best game of his MLS career.
Four things to take from Saturday night’s Red Bulls win:
Bouna Time: This much is true, Coundoul will frustrate New York fans. There will be moments like last week’s own-goal against Chivas USA and then there will be games like Saturday night where he puts the team on his shoulders. Time after time, Coundoul was world class for the Red Bulls. Without Coundoul, Backe said “we could easily have lost this game.”
If Coundoul doesn’t win Player of the Week honors for his brilliant seven-save performance, something is wrong.
The Midfield Needs Work: Sliding Mac Kandji from forward to left mid only exacerbated the fact that this team lacks a true winger and that Kandji is a forward and needs to be in front of goal. On the other side, Dane Richards continues to puzzle, a player capable of the sublime but who often misses the easy pass.
Joel Lindpere can only do so much centrally, and FC Dallas decided to shut down Lindpere and make the Red Bulls beat them with their other attacking players.
“We didn’t control anything in the midfield,” Backe said about his team being content to get rid of the ball too quickly when they won it away from FC Dallas.
Red Bull Arena Still Has It: Even with 13,667 fans on a cold April night, the crowd looked and felt so much better than it would have in cavernous Giants Stadium. The turnout should be better with Philadelphia making the trek north this Saturday. But even half-full, Red Bull Arena is still a nice homefield advantage for New York.
The visitors liked it, with Eric Avila comparing the game’s feel to an EPL match. For 90 minutes, even after the FC Dallas goal, the stadium still had a buzz about it.
Despite The Negativity: Last year it took until August 23 for New York to win its third game of the season, so forgive Red Bulls fans for some giddiness over the result, no matter how badly the team played. This was the type of game that last year, the team wouldn’t have won and most likely would have been run off the pitch in 2009.
Defender Tim Ream said that Backe told them at halftime that they weren’t playing up to standard and to “be aggressive and not be tentative. Just attack, attack, attack.” Last year, the Red Bulls would have caved-in after a clunker of a first half.
“It’s funny what confidence does for you, it brings the best out in you,” FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman said of the difference between the New York of last year and this year.