The first omen of a long night to come was the starting XI put out by New York.
Once again, Dax McCarty was cast off to the right hand side. Unlike Saturday’s encounter against the Crew, there was a wrinkle in the middle. The plodding duo of Teemu Tainio and Rafa Marquez in the middle of the park slowed New York to a crawl against the speedy Sporting attack.
“I think as I said, you need possession when you play Kansas,” coach Hans Backe said of the decision to start three defensive midfielders. “They force you to kick it. You need to come out and have more possession.”
When that wasn’t working, a quirky sub saw Tainio and Marquez continue their work in the middle in favor of a Dax McCarty for Kenny Cooper switch.
“At halftime we just needed to do something, it could’ve been probably any of the midfielders,” Backe said. “We needed a striker and we would’ve liked to play Tim (Cahill) as the second striker to try to get an early goal in the second half.”
All in all, the move forced Henry and Cahill to play up top to no avail and destroyed the creativity of the Red Bulls midfield.