Never did a meaningless friendly potentially mean so much to a team. New York's 3-1 dismantling of Juventus on Sunday—yes, that would be the MLS side overpowering the Serie A club—was good news for a team that is on a three game slide in league play.
Four thoughts from the Red Bulls win over Juventus:
1. Don’t listen to the Italian press — The first goal was shrugged off as an anomaly. The second goal, more of the same. By the time Juan Pablo Angel found the back of the net for the third time, Juve fans and media had had enough. The excuses began to flow from the stands and the press box. It doesn’t matter. This is a friendly. These aren’t our best players. This is a reserve side. Baloney (not to be confused with Serie A side Bologna): New York head coach Hans Backe noted after the game that Juventus fielded “four or five high profile players—world class players.” Going up against the likes of Trezeguet, Del Piero, Grosso and Diego was a Red Bulls starting 11 who combined for just 17 starts in league play this season. So put that in your cannoli and stuff it—this was hardly a Red Bulls first team, either.
2. Garcia with a cherry on top—He showed flashes in the two cup matches he has played in so far, but Irving Garcia looks like a very nice player. The fourth-round selection looked confident on the ball and moved into the attack very well. He may not be ready for league action, but Garcia looks like a player to develop who could grow into one of the steals of the draft. “Sometimes he ends up as a right full back when we defend,” head coach Hans Backe said. “And it’s too far away for an attacking player like Irving.” That shot off the post in the 50th minute that set up the Jeremy Hall goal was nasty.
3. Momentum changer — Remember way back in 2000, a young MetroStars winger named Peter Villegas nailed an overtime winner against Tampa Bay to begin a sizzling summer tear for the team, propelling them to the playoffs and within one game of the MLS Cup? Could Garcia’s blast from 25 yards out, although not a goal, do the same thing for the team? We’ll see, but this one was good for the Red Bulls to forget about their recent losses. “Even if it’s only a friendly, no one likes to lose,” Backe said, adding “it’s a great result for us, an excellent performance.”
4. Sharp for Wednesday — This result, win or lose, was a chance for the reserves to be sharp for the U.S. Open Cup game on Wednesday against Colorado. Backe promised a change or two to the lineup, but the young players are getting some good minutes and staying sharp. The team is in the process of building some legit depth. Backe said that injured midfielder Joel Lindpere could see the field against Colorado. This win over a historic side breeds confidence in the team. “When you play one of the biggest clubs in the world, it’s always a confidence booster,” defender Carlos Mendes told MLSSoccer.com.
Kristian Dyer is a reporter for MLSSoccer.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.