HARRISON, N.J. – Through 32 matches, not many teams have been able to stop the one-man wrecking crew that is Kei Kamara. But on Saturday night, the New York Red Bulls did just that.
The league’s top goal scorer was not only held off the score sheet against a patchwork backline, but the Sierre Leone international hardly had a sniff at goal on the night. Missing two of their best defenders in Matt Miazga and Kemar Lawrence, the Red Bulls relied on defense by committee to keep Kamara at bay.
“He’s obviously a handful, extremely athletic, very physical, can score with both feet or his head,” captain Dax McCarty said. “We wanted to make sure we focused on identifying where he was on crosses at all times, that’s where he’s done most of his damage. I thought we did a really good job and he was quiet for most of the match. It’s a testament to our team defending, keeping him quiet goes a long way to getting three points.”
After a largely disappointing defensive effort their last time out against Orlando City, the Red Bulls made it a point to correct the issues that led to a season-high five goals conceded. Where their high-press lead to a bevy of chances for the opposition last week, it worked to their advantage against Columbus on Saturday night.
“We felt that we had an off night in Orlando in terms of our shifting and moving,” interim head coach Dennis Hamlet said. “Tonight I think you saw more of who we are in terms of pressing and doing it together. It was a great response after giving up the first goal and we created our two goals off our pressing.”
Once thought to be heir apparent to Jamison Olave, defender Ronald Zubar has had precious few chances to show his defensive prowess due to a plethora of injuries that has kept RBNY center back on the sidelines. With Miazga away with on Olympic qualifying duty, the Frenchman put in quite the shift to stymie the league’s leading goal scorer; a feat that did not go unnoticed.
“I think that people here in the United States don’t realize who Ronald is,” defender Damien Perrinelle said of his fellow countryman. “Ronald is a massive player. He was unlucky most of this season, but the whole team has [lots of] confidence in him. We’re sad to lose Matt, but nobody was worried because we know that with Ronald, there’s no problem.”