Forwards Thierry Henry and Corey Hertzog and midfielder Matt Kassel opened their respective scoring accounts, as the New York Red Bulls earned a 3-1 win over a side consisting of Atlante’s Reserves and Under-20 Saturday afternoon.
Playing in soggy conditions, the Red Bulls overcame a bumpy pitch and their feisty, young opponent to earn their second preseason win of the year, improving their record to 2-0.
“I told the players before the game this is the kind of fitness we need at the moment to play games because it is a different rhythm than just doing training sessions,” said Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe.
Playing the same Starting XI that featured in the full first half against the Atlante First Team last Wednesday, New York controlled the opening stanza. Midfielder Dane Richards tested the Mexicans early, forcing the Atlante goalkeeper to make a stop five minutes in after the Jamaican danced through the opposition’s defense. In the 10th minute, the goalkeeper was again called upon when Rafa Marquez’s corner kick swung dangerously towards goal.
After persistent pressure, the Red Bulls drew first blood in the 30th minute. Forward Juan Agudelo had the ball on the right wing and put in a low cross to Henry, who took a touch before sliding his shot off the left post and into the back of the net. Backe said that he has been impressed so far with how the team’s new captain has been training in the first few weeks of camp and said he “looked lively” on Saturday.
“I think for everyone, even if he’s such an experienced player that has won everything, it’s still important for him as a striker to score goals,” Backe said. “But I think the fact that we looked more solid as a team was the key.”
Atlante’s best chance of the half came in the 18th minute, as Andres Toloza raced through and blasted a left footed shot over the bar.
“I think we had another solid game defensively,” said defender Tim Ream. “We’re continuing to build on the foundation that we have staying compact and really working on team defense like we did last year. We’re trying to carry it over into every game and the regular season.”
After the break, the Red Bulls searched for their second goal, trotting out a young lineup for the second-straight game. Forward Conor Chinn dispossessed an Atlante defender in the 51st minute and found John Rooney, who put his attempt just past the left post. Later, Chinn had a good opportunity to score himself, taking an Austin da Luz feed and blasting it high.
Kassel scored the eventual game-winner 10 minutes from full time. After a poor clearance by the Atlante goalkeeper, who was well outside of his area, Kassel slammed a 35-yard attempt from the right wing into the back of the net.
Having more possession in the second half, Atlante pulled one back as Joaquin Vigil raced through the center of New York’s defense and slotted it past goalkeeper Alex Horwath.
However, the Red Bulls quickly retook their two-goal advantage two minutes later. Hertzog gained possession on the left wing and floated a ball into the box that went around the goalkeeper and tucked into the goal.
New York returns to preseason action on Tuesday, Feb. 15 when it takes on Chivas de Guadalajara at Omnilife Stadium.
“I’ve never played with a crowd that big or played this big of a game so I’m just really excited to see what’s going to happen during the game,” said the rookie Hertzog.
New York Red Bulls 3, Atlante FC Reserves/Under-20s 1
February 12, 2011; Riviera Maya, Mexico
NY: Thierry Henry 1 (Juan Agudelo 1) 30’
NY: Matt Kassel 1 (unassisted) 80’
ATL: Joaquin Vigil 1 (unassisted) 83’
NY: Corey Hertzog 1 (unassisted) 85’
ATL: Andres Toloza (caution) 33’
New York Red Bulls (2-0-0) – 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: Alex Horwath* (GK), Billy Cortes (Tyler Lassiter 70’), Stephen Keel*, Tyler Lassiter, Teddy Schneider, Irving Garcia (Marcos Paullo 70’), Carl Robinson, John Rooney (Matt Kassel 70’), Austin da Luz, Conor Chinn (Corey Hertzog 70’), Salou Ibrahim
* - Non-Roster Player