Boosted by a stout defensive performance and several stellar saves by goalkeeper Greg Sutton, the New York Red Bulls earned their first win in their opening match of the 2011 preseason with a victory over Mexican side, Atlante FC, at Andres Quintana Roo Stadium.
After the game ended in a scoreless draw, the teams went to penalty kicks. Atlante had a chance to win but goalkeeper Moises Munoz’s spot kick was saved by Greg Sutton. Austin da Luz ended up converting the game-winning penalty kick as Atlante’s Sonny Guadarrama hit his shot off the left post in the sixth round, giving New York a 4-3 victory in the shootout.
“I was very happy with the defending,” said Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe. “We had almost every session so far since we started in New Jersey working on the defending game, just working very hard but it’s only been two weeks. I must say, the way we defended overall over 90 minutes was almost perfect and with a very young team in the second half, I was happy for those guys that they could have a clean sheet.”
The Red Bulls, returning after a 2010 which saw them win the Eastern Conference regular season title, were looking to establish a rhythm early and had the first scoring chance of the match three minutes in, as midfielder Dane Richards skipped past two defenders to the endline and found Juan Agudelo, whose close range shot missed the target.
In the 15th minute, Atlante threatened New York’s net when Reimond Manco’s 20-yard blast was stopped by Sutton. Richards again menaced the Atlante defense soon after, gathering a Tony Tchani through ball, cutting to his left foot and pulling an attempt just past the right post. With eight minutes left in the period, Atlante nearly put its name on the scoresheet. Christian Bermudez streaked down the left wing with space and found Manco by the penalty spot. However, Manco one-timed his shot over the bar.
The Red Bulls changed all of their field players at halftime – a move not unusual in the first preseason match due to fitness issues. Backe trotted out many younger players, several of whom were making their New York debuts.
“I thought obviously we played a very strong team in the first half and then a very young team around me in the second half and I thought the lads were fantastic in the second half,” said midfielder Carl Robinson. “They took on what Hans had said, what we had worked on in training and they showed that as well.”
Already in the midst of their Mexican Clausura schedule, Atlante made six substitutions and had the first scoring opportunity eight minutes in. Mario Ortiz took the ball on the right side and sent a low cross that Guadarrama re-directed on-target, but Sutton sprawled out to keep the game scoreless.
Sutton made two huge saves with eight minutes left in the match. First, he stuffed forward Giancarlo Maldonado at the top of the box. The rebound floated up in the air and Maldonado’s ensuing bicycle kick was kicked away by the Canadian goalkeeper. Moments later, Maldonado created enough space for himself to slide a shot that trickled past the left post. Fellow substitute Luis Angel Landin was able to get past Sutton in the 88th minute but was denied by the right upright.
In the penalty shootout, the hosts earned a 4-3 lead in the final round with Munoz having the opportunity to give Atlante the victory. However, Sutton guessed correctly, diving to his left to parry away his counterpart’s shot. After da Luz rifled his attempt into the back of the net, Guadarrama stepped up and poked his shot off the left post to give New York the win.
Sutton deflected praise, joking after the match that he, “Wouldn’t have heard the end of it if (another goalkeeper) scored on me.”
“It was just one of those things where you kind of read each other and fortunately enough, I was able to read him out and hold him out and make the save. And, the guys did a good job in making their kicks.”
The Red Bulls will face Chivas de Guadalajara in Guadalajara, Mexico next Tuesday.
“To win the first game was good but we just started preparing ourselves,” said Red Bulls defender and Mexican National Team standout Rafa Marquez. “Beating a Mexican team is always positive and it was a good start for us.”
New York Red Bulls 0, Atlante FC 0
Red Bulls win on penalty kicks, 4-3
February 9, 2011; Andres Quintana Roo Stadium; Cancun, Mexico
Penalty Kick Shootout:
NY: Lassiter (Goal)
ATL: Maldonado (Goal)
NY: Hertzog (Goal)
ATL: Landin (Goal)
NY: Robinson (Save)
ATL: Ortiz (Miss)
NY: Rooney (Save)
ATL: Fonseca (Goal)
NY: Ibrahim (Goal)
ATL: M. Munoz (Save)
NY: da Luz (Goal)
ATL: Guadarrama (Off Post)
NY: Jan Gunnar Solli (caution) 44’
NY: Salou Ibrahim (caution) 73’
New York Red Bulls – First Half Lineup: Greg Sutton (GK), Carlos Mendes, Rafael Marquez, Tim Ream, Danleigh Borman, Dane Richards, Tony Tchani, Joel Lindpere, Jan Gunnar Solli, Juan Agudelo, Thierry Henry
Second Half Lineup: Greg Sutton, Billy Cortes (Sacir Hot 71'), Stephen Keel*, Tyler Lassiter, Teddy Schneider, Matt Kassel (Irving Garcia 71'), Carl Robinson, John Rooney, Austin da Luz, Conor Chinn (Salou Ibrahim 71'), Corey Hertzog
* - Non-Roster Player
Atlante FC –First Half Lineup: Moises Munoz (GK), Luis Venegas, Alex Diego, Mathias Cardacio, Reimond Manco, Arturo Munoz, Daniel Guerrero, Christian Bermudez, Diego Ordaz, Jorge Hernandez, Ever Alfaro
Second Half Lineup: Moises Munoz (GK), Mathias Cardacio (Eduardo Arce 57’), Alex Diego, Daniel Guerrero (Luis Angel Landin 57’), Ever Alfaro (Giancarlo Maldonado 57’), Edgar Ivan Solis, Mario Ortiz, Francisco Fonseca, Sonny Guadarrama, Andres Carevic, Sergio Napoles
Referee: Ricardo Arellano