It was supposed to be a friendly scrimmage between two clubs owned by the same company. Instead, it turned into an ugly encounter marred by vicious tackles, shoving matches and bad blood.
Salzburg scored a second-half goal to win the scrimmage on the scoreboard, but the Red Bulls had already lost plenty before reaching halftime with the score 0-0.
Wing midfielder Dane Richards had to leave the match in the 13th minute after suffering what amounted to a right MCL sprain after Salzburg midfielder Harald Pichler delivered a crunching tackle near the sidelines.
"Their intention, in my opinion, was come out to try and hurt one of our guys,” Red Bulls goalkeeper Jon Conway said. “I think it’s crap.
"From the get go, there was a bunch of cheeky, chippy fouls and I just think they wanted to get somebody and they did. They got Dane and now Dane‘s injured."
"I guess coming in and we’re guys from the states and they just want to prove something I guess," Conway said. “I think we came back and handled it okay.”
Reyna’s explanation for why things got ugly was a bit more pointed.
“I played in Germany and this is how it is always with Germans and Austrians,” Reyna said. “They’re diving cheats. It’s just how they are and how they always play and it’s just a shame.
“The referee had no control and it turns into an exercise of just trying not to get injured,” Reyna said. “It was unfortunate because we were just trying to get a game out of it and they were trying to play like it was a World Cup game.”
The Red Bulls didn’t sit back and allow Salzburg’s reserves to make it a one-way tackle-fest. The Red Bulls answered with their own tough challenges, with Reyna, Seth Stammler and Juan Pablo Angel all delivering crunching tackles, hard fouls and harsh words. In the second half, Jerrod Laventure turned into a one-man foul machine as he managed to deliver at least a half-dozen hard fouls.
While the ugly fouling led to a game with little rhythm, the Red Bulls did manage to create the better chances and put together some quality soccer before head coach Juan Carlos Osorio pulled his starters at halftime.
Juan Pablo Angel saw a header go wide from close range in the fourth minute while winger Jose Mendoza had his close-range shot saved in the fifth minute.
Conway made some clutch saves to keep the match scoreless, diving to his left for a stop in the 20th minute and getting his hand up quickly enough to stop a long-range laser from Salzburg midfielder Ernst Obster that was destined for the goal before he parried it away.
Midfielder Seth Stammler had the Red Bulls’ best chance of the match in the 25th minute when he capped off a quality sequence of passes with a clever run through the Salzburg midfield. With a wide-open look from 18 yards out, Stammler sent his shot wide left.
Obster nearly scored just one minute into the second half when his long-range blast struck the underside of the crossbar before bouncing out.
Stanislav Vasilj headed home a short cross from close range for the game’s only goal.
The second half was played with far fewer fouls, with the exception of Laventure, who turned into a Haitian Marco Materazzi for 45 minutes.
Here is a rundown of who played well, and who didn’t play so well:
Conway looked solid, as did the Red Bulls defense. While Salzburg seemed more interested in hurting someone than scoring in the first half, the Red Bulls did a good job of squashing the few forays into the final third Salzburg put together.
Seth Stammler and Dave Van Den Bergh played well in central midfield, delivering sharp passes, making key tackles, and in Stammler’s case, making one beautiful run that only lacked the finish.
Lider Marmol played well again, coming on at halftime and showing strength and poise on the ball.
Rookie Danleigh Borman struggled at first when he came on at halftime but eventually settled down and showed some promise.
Rookie left back Scott Palguta continued his strong camp with a steady 45 minutes.
Mendoza showed more on Monday than he did in the team’s intra-squad scrimmage on Saturday but there was little wow-factor in his game. At times, Mendoza looks scarily similar to former MetroStar Sergio Galvan Rey, and I’m talking Galvan Rey in his first year in MLS, when he was downright awful.
That’s all for now, share your thoughts on the match below.