With the U.S. Men’s National Team playing their final Gold Cup Group stage encounter again Costa Rica and Major League Baseball hosting the All-Star game at Citi Field, who can blame New York Red Bull fans if they were a bit distracted (and disinterested) in a Tuesday night friendly against Ligue 1 side, Olympique Lyonnaise.
Nevertheless, an announced 13,829 fans were treated to an inspired and surprisingly physical 2-2 draw.
“Aside from the first 15 minutes, I thought it was a good night,” Head Coach Mike Petke said. “I thought we did some good things and we got out of here, knock on wood, without any injuries. We scored two goals and like I said, there was some good stuff out there. My expectations going into this match were, first and foremost, stay healthy, second, get a good run in. Those were my expectations out of this match. It was an odd time to have it but I understand the business side, so they got a good run out of it, everybody, and no injuries.”
Lyon opened the scoring in the fourth minute as keeper Luis Robles let a rebound squib away from his arms and veteran defender Jamison Olave tapped a comical ball into the back of the net.
New York withstood pressure throughout the first 15 minutes of the match but slowly began to turn the tables. It wasn’t until the 31st minute that a Dax McCarty blast beat keeper Anthony Lopes for the tying goal.
“These days I don’t find myself in the box too often,” McCarty admitted. “When I do, I’m, you know, I’m a guy that I try to change my mentality to shoot whenever I get a chance, but I always look to pass first and that was the same thing on the goal. I picked my head up and I tried to play a give and go with someone, no one was there, so when they started stepping to me I figured why not give it a go, just put it far post and see what happens, and I hit it pretty sweetly actually, I hit it pretty good.
“Luckily it went in and it was a confidence booster for us, gave us a little momentum and I think we deserved it, you know, it could’ve been me or anybody else that was attacking because I thought we created quite a few chances, but it feels good to get one, even if it’s in a friendly.”
Wholesale changes in the second did not stop New York’s momentum. A spry run down the right side saw Lloyd Sam break beyond Lyon’s defenses allowing the young Englishman to send a cross into the box where Andre Akpan took a pair of terrible touches before burying the go-ahead goal in the 61st.
Lyon would awaken from their slumber in the 75th with Yoann Gourcuff blasting a shot past a returning Ryan Meara to knot the game at two.
Besides the free flowing nature of the match, physicality was on full display. Tim Cahill, wearing the captain’s armband, threw his body into the opposition for most of his time on the field. A 40th minute assault earned him a yellow card. Lloyd Sam would get into the mix later on in the match as well.
“Yeah actually, I was surprised a little bit (by the physicality),” Akpan said after the match. “I think we disturbed the possession there a little bit midway through the first half, and maybe got a little frustrated, and you got guys like Tim Cahill out there who aren’t going to back down, so it was good in the end.”
New York emptied their bench for the encounter, using all 22 available players throughout the night. This allowed Ian Christianson, Matt Miazga and Kevin Hartman to earn their first minutes of the season. Marius Obekop also delighted the crowd with his engaging runs in the second half. Only Kosuke Kimura played a full 90 minutes.
For the game highlights, check the video below:
OL: Jamison Olave (own goal) 4’
NY: Dax McCarty 1 (unassisted) 31’
NY: Andre Akpan 1 (Lloyd Sam 1) 61’
OL: Yoann Gourcuff 1 (Clinton Njie 1) 75’
OL: Maxime Gonalons (caution) 32’
NY: Tim Cahill (caution) 40’
OL: Mouhamadou Dabo (caution) 55’
NY: Lloyd Sam (caution) 55’
New York Red Bulls – Luis Robles (Kevin Hartman 32’, Ryan Meara 62’), Michael Bustamante (Ian Christianson 67’), Jamison Olave (Ibrahim Sekagya 46’), Markus Holgersson (Matt Miazga 46’), Kosuke Kimura, Lloyd Sam (Ruben Bover 62’), Dax McCarty (Brandon Barklage 46’), Tim Cahill (Eric Alexander 46’), Jonny Steele (Marius Obekop 46’), Fabian Espindola (Andre Akpan 46’), Peguy Luyindula (Amando Moreno 69’)
Substitutes Not Used: None
Olympique Lyonnais – Anthony Lopes, Mouhamadou Dabo (Jordan Ferri 69’), Miguel Lopes (Medhy Zeffane 46’), Milan Bisevac (Arlold Mvuemba 76’), Clement Grenier (Fares Bahlouli 80’), Gueida Fofana, Gael Danic (Nabil Fekir 46’), Steed Malbranque (Yoann Gourcuff 46’), Maxime Gonalons (Bakari Kone 76’), Alexandre Lacazette (Jimmy Briand 80’), Lisandro Lopes (Clinton Njie 68’)
Substitutes Not Used: Matthieu Gorgellin, Rachid Ghezzal
Referee: Jose Carlos Rivero
Referee’s Assistants: TJ Zablocki, Danny Thornberry
4th Referee: Robert Sibiga