New York Red Bulls Reserves Showcase Team's Depth in Draw in Gillette Stadium

Andre Akpan assisted, Lloyd Sam scored and the New York Red Bulls showed why they might be one of the deepest team’s in MLS in this past Saturday’s 1-1 road draw with the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium.

Playing without Thierry Henry, Dax McCarty and other key veterans, the Red Bulls stepped into their house of horrors with a short-handed starting lineup and still managed to walk away with a point. Things for New York started out well in the first half before they turned grim in the second when Diego Fagundez opened the scoring in the 54th minute. The Red Bulls, however, responded immediately as Akpan connected with Sam before the latter struck a composed finish to the far post.

“It shows character, it shows heart, it shows anger, it shows determination,” Petke said of the equalizer after the match. “All those big words, SAT words. It was great for it to happen.”

After the game that showcased the Red Bulls’ depth and extended their current unbeaten run to five matches, Petke said he was particularly pleased with the play of Akpan. The 25-year-old forward was asked to help Fabian Espindola make up for the absence of Henry and while he did not deliver the same type of magic the Red Bulls captain is known for, Akpan showed he is capable of being another weapon that Petke can use at times off the bench.

“Andre did what we expected him to do,” said Petke. “Big, strong presence up front, won a lot of head balls, which isn’t easy against a guy like [Stephen] McCarthy, held the ball up well for us and helped out Espindola with the work load. They both split the work load down the middle defensively and it was effective for a large part of the game.”

Sam, Kosuke Kimura and Heath Pearce also put in solid efforts for a New York team that now sits alone atop the Eastern Conference, and it is those type of contributions from the reserves along with the play of the regulars that have the Red Bulls rolling right now.

“The manager wants us to all work hard and pitch in as a team and all know our role,” said Sam. “I think that’s the main reason (for our recent success).”