The Red Side: Red Bulls Rally for Draw With NYCFC

Photograph by Matt Kremkau

Red Bulls logoHARRISON, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls got only half of the result they wanted against their Hudson River rivals Friday night, rallying on a 70th-minute penalty to get a 1-1 draw with New York City FC.

The Red Bulls outshot NYC 21-9, hit the post twice and had nearly twice the possession but only came away with a point, its only point in three league matches. In four games against NYC this season, the Red Bulls lost twice and managed its only win in a fourth-round U.S. Open Cup clash on June 14.

“How many sports does a team dominate like that and then be down 1-0?” coach Jesse Marsch asked rhetorically. “A draw feels like a big disappointment because the way we played and the way we dominated most of the match.

“There were a lot of guys really disappointed in the locker room. And it’s obvious why. It’s a big rival. It’s a game where we feel we’re the better team for major stretches. And then we don’t capitalize and find a way to get the three points. So that part, in an emotional way, is very hard to swallow.”

The result was also the second-straight match without a win for the Red Bulls, who had won eight of their previous nine including the Open Cup.

“It’s a little disheartening,” striker Bradley Wright-Phillips said. “But we can take away the good performance.”

The Red Bulls (12-10-3, 39 points) had the better of play throughout much of the match but fell behind in the in the 56th minute against the run of play when R.J. Allen fed a ball to David Villa, who one-touched a diagonal pass into Maximiliano Moralez.

The Argentine DP ran onto it and one-timed a low shot back across the face of goal and past Luis Robles for his fourth goal of the year.

The Red Bulls howled for three penalties in the second half and Referee Jair Marrufo finally awarded one when Sacha Kljestan dribbled into the box and was kicked in the knee by a failing Allen as the home side’s captain cross over the 18.

Gonzalo Verón converted for his second goal of the year to the delight of the packed sellout house of 25,219 – including a significant blue-clad contingent in the upper deck.

“Gonzy has become a big part in the few months of what we’re doing now,” Kljestan said. “Jesse’s talked about the one-two punch of Bradley (Wright-Phillips) starting things off and Gonzalo coming in when defenses are tired, and using his speed to open up the game.”

Both sides played physical to open the match with Marrufo allowing several hard tackles on both sides.

The Red Bulls clearly had the better of play, outshooting NYCFC (14-7-5, 47) by 15-2 in the first half, putting one of them off the right post but only two on goal.

“Overall, a very good start to the game in the first half,” Kljestan said. “We were pretty dominant and it’s a pity we couldn’t capitalize more on our chances.”

New York City ran into trouble in the 30th minute when Ethan White pulled up lame after trapping a ball at the top of his defensive third with no one around him.

Allen was inserted to replace him.

The Red Bulls had chances but shots by Wright-Phillips and Felipe Martins inside the area were blocked in front of Sean Johnson.

The Red Bulls thought they went ahead in injury time when Wright-Phillips played a ball behind the NYC defense to Michael Murillo, whose chip over a sliding Johnson bounced off the right post.

The second half started similarly to the first with Martins hitting the crossbar from distance in the 47th. The Red Bulls screamed twice for penalties, first when Allen crashed into the back of Wright-Phillips, who was waiting at the right post for a Kljestan cross in the 54th.

“It’s a penalty. It’s a penalty,” Wright-Phillips said. “If he’s not there, I just head that in. I think that’s common sense.”

Marsch again was apoplectic again four minutes later when Alex Muyl set in toward Johnson, only to be tripped by Frederic Brillant at the left post.

“I think it was R.J. Allen, he bumps me a little bit,” Kljestan said recalling the foul that led to the penalty. “It’s kind of a close challenge and I would guess he (Marrufo) had in the back of his mind Bradley’s chance should have been a penalty and perhaps Alex Muyl’s as well. I’m glad we finally got one penalty, but we should have done more with our other chances, I think.”

The result left NYC alone in second place with 47 points, four behind Eastern Conference leader Toronto, while the Red Bulls climbed into a share of fourth place with Columbus, but New York has played two fewer games.