Grella’s brace leads Red Bulls past Sounders

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by Deny Gallagher

HARRISON, N.J. – Sunday night’s match between the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls was the 500th career game for manager Sigi Schmid.

No gifts were exchanged on this night. Instead, Mike Grella and the Red Bulls crashed the party.

Grella’s fifth and sixth goals of the season allowed the Red Bulls to continue their winning ways after the Copa America break, defeating the Sounders 2-0 at Red Bull Arena.

“The thing with Mike is always getting the balance right of when to play simple and when to do special things,” Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch said after the match. “Clearly when he gets that balance right, he’s very difficult to deal with.”

From the opening whistle, the two sides showed that there would be no love lost in this Father’s Day contest. After a contentious opening ten minutes that saw three cautions between the two sides, the game opened up a bit near the quarter hour mark.

In the 18th minute, Sacha Kljestan nearly put the hosts out in front on a curving ball from the top of the area. The effort hit the post, but deflected straight to the feet of Mike Grella. The fan favorite made the most of the opportunity, and beat Stefan Frei to put the Red Bulls up 1-0.

As the match progressed it became clear if the Sounders wanted to have any attacking success, play had to go through Jordan Morris. In the 33rd minute, the Seattle striker sent a mildly venomous header just wide of the far post. The chance spawned a passage of play that favored the Sounders. Despite getting deep into the area, none of Seattle’s chance threatened Luis Robles’ net.

Both sides came out of the intermission with a renewed vigor, providing compelling end-to-end action from two flagship MLS franchises. While the Sounders attack loomed large over the RBNY back line, the unit seemed up to the task of keeping Morris and the Sounder attack at bay.

In the 60th minute, the Red Bulls cemented their position in the game on a goal from none other than Mike Grella. The Glen Cove native added his second of the night on a beautiful sequence by the hosts. The passage began when Bradley Wright-Phillips found Lloyd Sam. Sam then pivoted toward goal, and played a ball toward an on-running Grella. Brad Evans deflected the pass into the 18-yard box as he fell to ground, putting the midfielder in on goal. With the Frei off of his line, Grella chipped the keeper to extend the Red Bulls lead.

For the last half hour of the game, the Red Bulls played with a five-man defense. In an effort to provide some much needed rest, Marsch tapped Aurelien Collin to bolster the team’s defense.

When the final whistle blew, the result became official and the New York Red Bulls (7-7-1, 22 points) moved just a point shy of the Philadelphia Union (6-4-5, 23 points) for the Eastern Conference lead. The Red Bulls travel to Utah for a midweek encounter with Real Salt Lake.

Scoring Summary:
NY – Mike Grella (5) 18′
NY – Mike Grella (6) 59′
Misconduct Summary:
SEA – Osvaldo Alonso  (caution, foul) 4′
NY – Felipe (caution, foul) 4′
NY – Bradley Wright-Phillips (caution, foul) 7′
NY – Connor Lade (caution, foul) 79′
NY – Aurelien Collin (caution, foul) 82′
SEA – Erik Friberg (caution, foul) 86′
New York Red Bulls: Luis Robles; Connor Lade, Chris Duvall, Ronald Zubar (Gideon Baah, 82′), Sal ZIzzo, Felipe, Dax McCarty ©, Mike Grella, Sacha Kljestan (Aurelien Collin, 61′), Lloyd Sam (Alex Muyl 75′), Bradley Wright-Phillips
TOTAL SHOTS: 11; SHOTS ON GOAL: 3; FOULS: 8; OFFSIDE: 2; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 3.
 
Seattle Sounders FC: Stefan Frei; Dylan Remick, Brad Evans ©, Chad Marshall, Tyrone Mears, Erik Friberg, Andreas Ivanschitz (Christian Roldan, 81′), Osvaldo Alonso, Joevin Jones (Oalex Anderson, 68′), Aaron Kovar (Nelson Valdez, 68′), Jordan Morris
TOTAL SHOTS: 16; SHOTS ON GOAL: 3; FOULS: 14; OFFSIDE: 1; CORNER KICKS: 5; SAVES: 1.
Referee: Chris Penso
Referee’s Assistants: Brian Dunn, Jeff Muschik
4th Official: Jose Carlos Rivero
Attendance: 21,102