Grella lifts Red Bulls over Chicago Fire

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by RUSS McKENZIE

Sometimes, playing pretty doesn’t always get the job done.

The New York Red Bulls rebounded from their loss at DC in style against the Chicago Fire in a hard fought battle at Red Bull Arena. Mike Grella, held without a shot for two matches, finally broke through Chicago’s defensive bunker to put the Red Bulls on top in the second half.

“Yeah, we took the D.C. loss really hard,” head coach Jesse Marsch said after the match. “But to come back and respond, and listen, this game was never going to be wide open. It was never going to be a three, four, five-goal game. Chicago doesn’t play in games like that. They keep things very tight. They make themselves very hard to break down, and they see if they can catch you on the counter. So all those things we can be very susceptible to and we can give up goals.

“The fact that we got a shutout against some very dangerous attacking players on the counter I think was a big step for us, and to grind out a Game 1-0, right? We haven’t done that all year. We haven’t shown the ability in a tight game to come out as the victor.”

New York dominated possession in the first half, but were held without a single shot on target. However, it was the defensive play of Aurelien Collin and Chris Duvall that was the highlight of the first frame. Collin showed why head coach Jesse Marsch has been gushing about his leadership qualities, successfully organizing a backline that was victimized twice less than a week ago.

On the attack, much like previous matches, New York squandered chance after chance at the top of the 18, as Chicago sat back and absorbed the pressure. The best chance of the bunch barely missed, as Bradley Wright-Phillips finally got the ball with his face to goal.

In the second half, the Red Bulls continued to press the issue. It was a cheeky little backheel by Bradley Wright-Phillips to Lloyd Sam that finally broke through the Fire defense. Sam then put the ball right to Grella who only had to shoot at an open net.

“They made it difficult for us, credit to them, and we probed the whole first half looking for a chance and whether it was that our passing was a little off, or they were just so compact back there we just couldn’t get it right, you know – it seemed like we got balls wide and crossed them, and we only had two or three of us in the box and we were outnumbered. Nothing was really falling to us,” Grella said. “So Jesse said at halftime a good way to get at them would be to pick one off somehow and suck them out, let them come out a little bit of their shell and maybe pick one off and that’s exactly what happened.”

While Grella scored the goal, it was the calm and collected play of a much maligned backline that provided the foundation to let the creativity of the attackers blossom. The centerback pairing of Duvall and Collin stayed connected throughout the match, never getting caught out of position. Kemar Lawrence and Connor Lade helped solidify the effort on the backline with strong outings as well.

The Red Bulls resume hostilities with their cross-river rivals NYCFC on Satrday as they travel to Yankee Stadium in part one of the Hudson Derby.

  • troy

    Should have beat that team by 2 or 3. Hate to say it but nycfc will be much harder. Need to keep those noobs in check and beat them bad at home.

  • Smurfette

    Blue noobs
    We see you standing alone
    Without a dream in your heart
    Without a love of your own