Lloyd Sam shines as New York Red Bulls beat Union

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If Lloyd Sam is looking to make a statement for a starting spot with the New York Red Bulls, he is off to the right start.

The speedy English winger scored the opening goal and assisted on Thierry Henry’s winner to earn the Red Bulls their first victory of the preseason; a 2-1 win over rival Philadelphia Union.

“Second game of preseason, so there are obviously going to be some ups and downs,” head coach Mike Petke noted. “I thought there were some very good things in the first half but also things we can work on; building out of teh back, decision making out of the back, but in the offensive third, we combined a bit of counter attacking with some good possession and build up play. I was happy [with that].”

An errant clearance by goalkeeper Luis Robles was controlled by Kosuke Kimura, who sent a blind pass forward to Tim Cahill. The Australian international took a quick touch and sprung Sam up the right, beating the Union defense and blasting a shot past Zac MacMath for the opening goal in the eighth minute.

Cahill nearly doubled the early lead some 15 minutes later. Midfielder Peguy Luyindula won a duel at midfield, springing the attack with a feed towards Henry. The Red Bulls captain sent a through-ball splitting the Union defense, where Cahill gathered the effort, sending his shot wide of MacMath.

A delay of game call against Robles gave Philadelphia their best look of the match. Forward Jack McInerney took a laid off pass from the free kick and equalized on his attempt in the 29th minute.

The lead was short lived as Sam once again exposed the right side of the Union defense, springing a pass into the box at the feet of Henry for the go-ahead goal.

New York made wholesale changes in the second half, but continued with their impressive counter attack and steadfast defense — a hallmark of this Petke led side.

“I was very pleased with the effort first and foremost. We come down to Jacksonville for three days so we want to get something out of it,” Petke said. “The effort is first and foremost and I thought everyone, to a T, put it in.”

The Red Bulls will return home now in preparation for the Disney Pro Soccer Classic; a thirteen day, four match sprint which will feature games against Sporting Kansas City (2/19), the Montreal Impact (2/22) and the Fluminese U-23 team (2/26) before a final, unannounced match set for March 1st.

Here is a look at the team’s lineup Wednesday evening, along with a recording of the entire match:

FIRST HALF: Luis Robles; Kosuke Kimura, Jamison Olave, Armando, Bobby Convey; Lloyd Sam, Peguy Luyindula, Dax McCarty, Jonny Steele; Tim Cahill, Thierry Henry

SECOND HALF: Luis Robles (Santiago Castano 70′); Eckersley (Chris Duvall, 80′), Armando (Oyongo 70′), Sekagya, Miller; Stevenson, Bustamante, Alexander, Obekop (Ruben Bover 70′); Akpan (Amando Moreno, 80), Wright-Phillips