It was the kind of game that the Red Bulls will walk away from battered, bruised … and confident.
Saturday’s 0-0 tie at Columbus Crew Stadium was always a match in which the odds were stacked against New York. Missing four starters due to international call-ups from the season opening win last Saturday, New York was also without captain Thierry Henry and goalkeeper Greg Sutton due to injury.
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Couple that with backup goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul called away to his national team and the Red Bulls were missing seven players who could have been penciled into their starting XI. So a scoreless tie on the road with a rookie goalkeeper and a depleted lineup is something New York will take to the bank.
“It’s not like we’re lacking as a team in confidence but this is a good result for us,” defender Stephen Keel told MLSsoccer.com. “To come on the road, missing six, maybe seven starters and get a result is a positive for us.”
Keel did not play last weekend in the Red Bulls’ season-opening win over Seattle but he found out on Tuesday that he would be a starter for the road game in Columbus. All week long he maintained that the back line would work together to stay tight and maintain their shape against the Crew.
Despite the final result, the match was tilted in favor of the home side. New York registered just one shot inside the 18-yard box while Columbus registered eight shots in the area. And given the fact that New York were starting Alex Horwath, their third-string goalkeeper, it was a good effort.
“If you look at all the factors, today we were missing our captain and our two starting center backs among others," Keel said. "We just wanted to come in here, stay compact and keep everything in front of us. First and foremost we needed to keep a clean sheet and we did that.”
But Keel and his teammates could well be called upon several other times this season as Saturday’s match in Columbus won’t be the last time that New York get hit with international call-ups. With the Gold Cup this summer potentially taking away as many as six Red Bulls from the squad for a period of a month, manager Hans Backe will be forced to utilize his squad's depth to win games and churn out results.
“There were 10 reasons why we shouldn’t have a result here,” Keel said. “We feel that we’re a deep enough team that we could come in here and the bench guys, the depth guys, could come in and get three points or a point from the match.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer