Silver Lining: Baah promising in Red Bulls debut

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by RUSS McKENZIE

Harrison, NJ – Gideon Baah wasn’t a Red Bull when New York secured their second Supporters Shield in three years — not that you could tell by his performance on Sunday.

Despite the 2-0 loss, the brand new centerback pairing of Baah and Ronald Zubar were effective in shutting down 2015 MLS MVP Sebastian Giovinco and the high-octane Toronto FC offense. Baah was particularly effective, seamlessly floating from centerback to fullback, getting involved in the attack and stifling the opposition in their own end.

In a night of disappointment, Baah was the club’s silver lining.

“I think it’s a good start, especially for me,” he said. “I loved everything about my debut today. It’s just unfortunate that we lost. Congratulations to Toronto FC. I think they did a good job and it’s just unfortunate that we lost.”

One of the biggest questions New York had to face in their season opener was whether Gideon Baah was going to be able to fill the void left by Matt Miazga, who transferred to Chelsea last month.

So far, the answer is yes. On an afternoon that featured some sloppy play and a frustrating result, Baah’s speed and ease of play with the ball at his feet raised some eyebrows. He had no issue pushing the play forward, making it easier on midfielders to build from the back. As a result, Baah was arguably the best player on the field for the Red Bulls on Sunday.

Head coach Jesse Marsch, who focused on the process in his post match comments, acknowledged the quality of his new partnership in the center of defense — especially Baah’s  play. “I thought he was very good. Clearly on the ball he was fantastic. I think him and Ronald cut out a lot of plays and made it very hard on Giovinco. He didn’t touch the ball much, but every time he does, it’s dangerous. It’s not an easy task on the day.

“It was good. I think he fit into the team seamlessly.”

Baah, for one, echoed his coach’s sentiments on Giovinco. “It wasn’t easy at all. Of course we (have) the ball all the time and he is just sneaking behind us and making those runs. You have to follow the game and follow him.

“It wasn’t easy at all. I think he got the better of us in the latter stages when we trying to get the equalizer. He’s a great player and it was very, very tough marking him.”

For any player, entering a new team can be difficult — especially when one is as tight knit as the Red Bulls.  Additionally, European players have sometimes had difficulty adjusting to the play of MLS.

Baah seemed at home on the Red Bulls backline, bucking the usual jitters of a foreign player in this league. That he credits to his coaches and teammates.

“I think [Marsch] is my teacher on the field. I have to listen to Jesse,” he began. “When the crowd gets so loud, there’s nothing you can hear from the coaches and the technical (staff) so he’s the one I listen to. (Zubar has) a lot of experience and I think today we did a good job. We tried to keep a clean sheet but unfortunately we didn’t.

“I think this season, it’s going to be a good partnership between us.”

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  • Not Matt Miazga

    I’m forgetting about Miazga real fast

    • slowleftarm

      Granted he played well but it’s only one game. Hopefully he keeps it up.

      • Danny

        I think its going to be a long year last year they should have won it.

  • Andrew Bissonette

    Not really sure why anyone doubted him in the first place. Anyone who watched him play at all could tell that he would be good.

    • Not Matt Miazga

      MLS is a different beast altogether to any other foreign league. The fact he has acclimated so quickly is encouraging.