HARRISON, N.J. – Before the New York Red Bulls’ win-and-in game against the Philadelphia Union on Thursday, midfielder Dax McCarty took right back Jan Gunnar Solli aside.
“Someone said to me that [the Union] were a little bit lazy on their left-hand side, and that gets me going,” Solli said. “Daxy gave me some nice information there. So that’s why I just took advantage of it early.”
Indeed, Solli made a habit of taking advantage of the Union down the right side of the field throughout the night. His first cross – which came after beating two Philadelphia defenders to the by-line – sailed over the box and out to the far sideline for a Union throw-in. His second cross found a leaping Dane Richards, whose header ricocheted off the post into ‘keeper Faryd Mondragón, and from there into the back of the net.
“My first cross didn’t go as it was supposed to, but the next one certainly did,” Solli said.
Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe lamented the Red Bulls’ inability to finish chances in the first half, saying that they could have been “two- or three-nil quite early.” But with a 1-0 lead going into the second half, the Red Bulls needed only hold on to see out a much-needed and crucial victory.
“In the second half, it was little bit more like ‘Stay, stay!’” Solli said with a laugh. “All the coaches are yelling at me to tuck inside. But I certainly wanted to go a little bit more forward in the second half.”
In the end, it wasn’t necessary. Goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón’s own goal held up for New York, who advanced to the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
“Overall, it’s mostly the team performance tonight that I think is really good,” Solli said. “If we can work with the defensive part, get a hold of the ball, show the good passing game as we sometimes are showing tonight, I think we have a really good shot to get a good result [in the playoffs].”