For the New York Red Bulls, Wednesday night’s 3-0 win over the New England Revolution gets the bad taste of last weekend’s 4-0 thrashing at San Jose out of their mouth of the Red Bulls. The team was dominant at times in the U.S. Open Cup play-in, restoring those good vibrations heading into this weekend’s clash at Red Bull Arena against Seattle.
Here are four thoughts from the game:
1. New England wasn’t that inferior: Yes, the Red Bulls had a better and perhaps more importantly, deeper selection in the cup game, but it wasn’t as tipped as one might think. Combined, the Red Bulls on the pitch included six starters who saw regular action from 2009’s last-place team, all told making 106 appearances for the side. New England, a playoff team last year, had five regulars who had consistent action in 2009. They combined for 98 appearances for the Revolution. Read into that what you will, but New England fielded a team somewhat comparable in experience to New York and the home team won impressively.
2. Albright is alright: All that hand-wringing on draft day when New York traded for Chris Albright, a player who had put on the kit of two of the team’s biggest rivals, is all for naught. Albright was impressive in moving forward and hit some nice crosses. Head coach Hans Backe had penciled him in for just “45 to 50 minutes” but Albright went well into the second half. “It’s going to be a couple of more games before I really feel fit, like I know I can be fit,” Albright said. “Whether it’s serviceable now, it may be, but I know I have a little bit more, a higher level to get to, in terms of fitness.” Sharpness-wise, he was right there.
3. Nielsen ratings: He has a little bit of prima donna in him … or maybe it’s just what the kids these days call swagger. Either way you put it, left midfielder Brian Nielsen is deft on the ball and fluid in his play. He hits a nice cross and his touch was on point time after time. His fitness is almost there: “Maybe I’m missing just the final 10 minutes,” Nielsen told MLSsoccer.com after the match.
4. Depth charges: Two games in the U.S. Open Cup means at least one more game in the tournament and more of a chance for Backe to build depth. This team is deep and, according to Jeremy Hall, “the deepest since I’ve been here.” A long MLS season with plenty of friendlies and competition will let Backe build a mature team. The team had several reserve matches in April against local competition to build some continuity and it is showing. “I think we have a lot of guys that are in good form and are ready to play whether it’s in the league or in the cup,” said midfielder Sinisa Ubiparipovic.
The player ratings
GK – Greg Sutton – His positioning was solid and did the right thing every time he was tested – mainly in the first half. Spilled a ball or two but a very solid job. Rating: 6.5
D – Chris Albright – First start in more than a year and against his old club. Defended one on one very well and moved into the attack splendidly. Yes, splendidly. Rating: 7
D-Carlos Mendes – Looked more fit than his last cup appearance. Overall good play centrally. Rating: 6
D-Andrew Boyens – Played very well and good distribution from the back. Made every challenge he needed too and moved well into the attack. Rating: 6.5
D-Danleigh Borman – Perhaps the best game of the season for the versatile left back. Defended well and attacked with poise and precision. Rating: 7.5
M-Jeremy Hall – Perhaps a bit tentative playing on the right wing rather than the back line. Used speed well and added some defensive effort to the wide play. Rating: 6
M-Sinisa Ubiparipovic – Got to love Ubi’s bite in the midfield and his poise on the ball. Well-taken free kick for second goal and his shot set up John Wolyniec’s second of the night. Rating: 7
M-Tony Tchani – A third start for Tchani in four games. Overall solid but not spectacular. Good poise on the ball but work rate must improve. Rating: 6
M- Brian Nielsen – Floats in and out of games but is a tremendously skilled player. Deft touches and clever play are a welcome addition to a somewhat plebian side. Rating: 8
F- John Wolyniec – A brace for the “Silver Fox” was a welcome sight. His two goals will overshadow some clever skill play and shrewd decisions on and off the ball. Rating: 8
F – Conor Chinn – Should have had at least one goal, somehow missing an open net. Good hustle, adept at holding the ball and solid effort. Rating: 6
M-Luke Sassano – First choice off the bench combined solid ball-winning with good distribution. No hangover from Saturday night’s red card in San Jose. Rating: 6
M – Irving Garcia – Speedy central player is clever on the ball and has good vision, but must complete a higher percentage of passes to become an impact player. Rating: 5.5
F – Juan Agudelo – Academy product once again showed no hesitation in taking on defenders and taking the ball to goal. Could be very special. Rating: 6
Kristian Dyer is a reporter for MLSSoccer.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.