New York Red Bulls at Real Salt Lake: Match Night Commentary

New York Red Bulls at Real Salt Lake: Match Night Commentary

Major League Soccer

New York Red Bulls at Real Salt Lake: Match Night Commentary

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Good evening everybody. I’m coming to you from Rio Tinto Stadium, where the New York Red Bulls are facing Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference final.

It’s a frigid night in Utah and I can’t help but get a sense of deja vu as a bitter cold grips a New York playoff game. It was eight years ago when I sat in an icy Soldier Field for the last (and only other) conference final appearance by this club, known then MetroStars.

We have two teams trying to reach the MLS Cup final for the first time. Two underdogs who have beaten the odds to reach a point few thought they could reach. Who will be facing the Columbus Crew in the 2008 MLS Cup final? We will find out soon enough.

I will be providing commentary throughout the night so feel free to follow along. If you will be watching the match, please feel free to share your thoughts, opinions and some play-by-play in the comments section below.

Enjoy the match:

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FINAL– Credit goes to the whole team but one man deserves a big portion. Head coach Juan Carlos Osorio fought through so much adversity and still found a way to mold a team together capable of putting together a dream playoff run.

That’s all for now. I’m heading down to the post-game. Please share your comments on this insane, unbelievable, historic and truly entertaining match.

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FINAL– The Red Bulls did it as a team, from the goalkeeper to the forwards. They gave their all, defending with their full commitment and have just been rewarded.

The Red Bulls are the Western Conference champions. Go build that trophy case now. You’ve got something to put in it.

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FINAL– The Red Buills are in the corner cheering on their fans. What a sight. Those fans deserve all the credit in the world for believing in a team they had no business believing in.

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FINAL– Last week I said I can’t believe what I just saw. THIS is truly unbelievable. Call it fate, destiny, the product of hard work and determination. Whatever you call it, you must agree it has been a special run for the Red Bulls.

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94th minute– RSL hits THE POST AGAIN!!!! AND IT’S OVER> RED BULLS WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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93rd minute– Hearts in New York and New Jersey can’t take it.

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92nd minute– Leitch is cramping up and the crowd here is going nuts. Two minutes left.

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91st minute– Richards burns some time off in the corner. Three minutes.

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90th minute– Four minutes of stoppage.

Deucher is in for Mathis.

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90th minute– Another RSL corner.

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89th minute– Leitch is limping off. We’re looking at about four minutes of stoppage time. No word yet.

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88th minute– The wall blocks the kick. Leitch is down now.

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86th minute– RSL with another dangerous free kick after a Pietravallo foul. Morales ran right into him. Not much he could do there.

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85th minute– This has been an unbelievable game.

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83rd minute– RSL is throwing everything at the Red Bulls now. AND ANOTHER MISS BY INCHES!!! WOW.

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82nd minute– The smoke bomb situation at the stadium is ridiculous. How the referee has allowed this to go on us unreal.

Pietravallo coming in for Sassano.

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81st minute– WOW, what a sequence. RSL had a clear chance and Will Johnson hits it off the left post. UNBELIEVABLE.

RSL with a dangerous free kick now.

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80th minute– Red Bulls with a great counter and results in a Richards shot deflected for a corner. Van Den Bergh’s corner is long.

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79th minute– WOW, Morales with a look in front of goal but sends it skyward. Another wasted chance.

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78th minute– Red Bulls show a lot of heart and RSL is putting the pressure on.

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77th minute– RSL corner.

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76th minute– The clock is ticking. Pietravallo does look like he will be coming in soon.

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75th minute– Sassano is getting treatment and will come back in.

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74th minute– Will Osorio use a sub? Not sure who would come out. Sassano is down and Pietravallo is going to come in.

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72nd minute– Andy Williams has come in for Olave as RSL goes with a 3-5-2.

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72nd minute– Cepero apparently got a hand on that Movsisyan shot. RSL corner.

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71st minute– The Red Bulls might want to try and keep the ball rather than just booting it out every time.

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67th minute– RICHARDS WiDE. Rojas with a beautiful ball to spring Richards but Richards can’t put it on target. What a chance.

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66th minute– WOW, Olave misses on a wide-open net from close range. WOW. That’s why he’s a defender folks.

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65th minute– Chris Leitch has had a great game so far. He’s been all over the right wing, breaking up attacks. Almost got beat on that sequence though.

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64th minute– Rojas with the yellow card for a late challenge on Findley.

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63rd minute– Rojas has had some good touches since coming in and has done his fair share of defensive work.

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61st minute– Findley has the pace to cause problems, but the Red Bulls are defending very well as a unit right now.

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60th minute– Findley in for Kovalenko, Mathis will slide into midfield.

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59th minute– Here comes RSL’s first sub, and it’s Robbie Findley.

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56th minute– SAVE CEPERO!! another diving stop, great save on a Russell shot.

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55th minute– This game is still too close for comfort. Rojas has yet to really create or find a good chance. Will he create today?

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53rd minute– Red Bulls in control of this game right now. RSL with too many unforced turnovers.

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50th minute– Red Bulls doing more with the ball, stringing passes together. RSL needs Morales to get the ball and try to create and go at people.

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49th minute– Rojas has been active early this half. A good sign for the Red Bulls.

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48th minute– RSL is going to need to come up with an offensive strategy that consists of something more than just dumping long balls to Movsisyan.

Angel with a look but Rimando dives to save it easily.

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46th minute– We are back in action. No subs.

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HALFTIME– Teams are about to start. How will Real Salt Lake respond? Will the Red Bulls go for the throat? Should be fun to watch.

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HALFTIME– Red Bulls 1, Real Salt Lake 0. The Red Bulls played an impressive and gutsy first half. Real Salt Lake played well also, but had few answers after the goal. Something tells me this game won’t finish 1-0.

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45th minute– Some fan threw a smoke bomb onto the field, and more astonishingly, the ref let a free kick be taken with smoke in the penalty area. Red Bulls cleared the danger.

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45th minute– Goldthwaite yellow for a foul on Morales. Free kick for Morales.

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42nd minute– Red Bulls have played very well this half after a shaky first 15 minutes. Can they keep this lead into the break?

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41st minute– Leitch does well to head away an RSL free kick. Red Bulls have four more minutes to hold this lead going into halftime.

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40th minute– RSL corner. Watch for Olave.

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39th minute– Morales OFF THE POST. The free kick went begging for a header and found the right post instead. WOW.

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38th minute– Richards is limping off with an ankle injury. Mac Kandi is warming up.

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35th minute– RSL with a free kick after Dane Richards went down with an injury. RSL kept playing until Mendes committed a foul about 40 yards from goal.

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35th minute– Red Bulls fans back on the East Coast should know that the 50 Red Bulls fans are making more noise than the rest of the stadium right now.

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33rd minute– How will Real Salt Lake respond? It is easy to forget that this is a young team. Will they panic or will they step up. Who will lead RSL?

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32nd minute– Not sure how they’re scoring that goal but Van Den Bergh actually sent the long ball to Wolyniec. Can he get the assist on his own goal?

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30th minute– One of Real Salt Lake’s flaws is leaving itself vulnerable to the counter because of all the numbers it commits to the attack. The Red Bulls caught them on the counter and made them pay. Great play by Wolyniec.

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28th minute- GOAL VAN DEN BERGH!!!!! Wolyniec with the pass, Van Den Bergh with the finish. Red Bulls 1, Real Salt Lake 0. WOW

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27th minute– Red Bulls haven’t had much of the ball recently. Still waiting for Rojas to make his mark.

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24th minute– SAVE CEPERO. Movsisyan hits a left-footed rocket but Cepero makes a great diving save. RSL corner.

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23rd minute– There may be some concern about burning the early sub but Osorio wasn’t likely to use three subs unless there were injuries. His bench options were limited to begin with.

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22nd minute– Ubiparipovic has a hamstring injury and passed a fitness test this afternoon, but the injury got the better of him and he will have to come out.

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21st minute– Looks like Rojas will be coming in. Ubiparipovic has already given the no-mas signal.

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19th minute– Jimenez with a nice play on Movsisyan. Pietravallo, Magee and Rojas are already warming up. Not sure who Osorio would turn to if Ubiparipovic can’t continue.

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18th minute– Ubiparipovic is laboring. He may be carrying a knock and just might have to come out of this match.

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17th minute– Will Johnson has been all over the place, making some key tackles. He’s up for this one.

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16th minute– The game certainly hasn’t been boring early on. Johnson nearly catches Mathis with a great pass, but he leads him a bit too much.

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14th minute– Jimenez with a gutsy tackle in the box. Another inch and it could have been a PK.

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13th minute– Scratch that.

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12th minute– Red Bulls corner is caught by rimando. You can tell the Red Bulls aren’t interested in sitting back early. They want to attack.

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11th minute– Red Bulls have calmed down a bit but this game is going at a frantic pace.

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9th minute– Wingert with a nice play on Richards. Wingert actually shut down Richards the last time these teams met so it’s a good move by Kreis to go with him rather than Russell.

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8th minute– Wolyniec with the left-footed blast that forces a Rimando save and a corner. Wolyniec’s left foot is pretty underrated.

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6th minute– Red Bulls are going to want to try and keep a high line to catch Movsisyan offside, but that could be playing with fire.

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5th minute– Red Bulls look a little timid early on.

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4th minute– RSL is going to send long balls to Movsisyan all night and keep testing that Red Bulls back-line.

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3rd minute– Movsisyan beats Mendes and sends a dangerous ball in but Mathis’ shot is blocked. RSL putting the pressure on already.

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2nd minute– The Red Bulls are definitely wary of Movsisyan, and it looks like Mendes is on him early.

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1st minute– We’re under way.

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PRE-GAME– It looks like Chris Wingert is lining up on the left side, so he will be on Richards.

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PRE-GAME– We are about to kick off here.

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PRE-GAME– Have I said how great this stadium is? Rio Tinto is the best stadium in MLS. This is my second trip here and I stand by the statement.

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PRE-GAME– Then again, being the best MLS referee is like being the (insert your own joke here).

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PRE-GAME– Marrufo was also the MLS referee of the year

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PRE-GAME– Jair Marrufo is the referee tonight, who I’m being told calls fewer fouls and gives fewer cards than the average. I wonder how that applies to bigger games.

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PRE-GAME– The Red Bulls fans have taken up residence in section 13 of Rio Tinto Stadium. Real Salt Lake fans have been pretty tame in greeting them. It’s probably too cold to get too hostile tonight.

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PRE-GAME– For those of you wondering, Carlos Mendes has played one first-team game at center back this year, in the Red Bulls’ 1-1 tie vs. New England on April 19th.

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PRE-GAME– Those of you wondering about Mendes playing in central defense for the first time this year should know that he trained there all week just for this possibility. He has also played reserve team games in central defense.

Also, Boyens’ injury is a left forearm fracture. I think I mentioned the broken forearm earlier in the week but that is for those of you who hadn’t heard.

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PRE-GAME– Jason Kreis is sticking with his same lineup offensively, with Mathis playing as a second forward, leaving Robbie Findley as some speed off the bench. I think Findley would have offered more problems to the Red Bulls but you can’t argue with the results RSL has been getting with Mathis in the lineup.

Robbie Russell and Dane Richards will do battle in a key match-up, with Kovalenko and Dave Van Den Bergh also setting up for a good match-up.

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PRE-GAME– Here is REal Salt Lake’s starting lineup:

—————Movsisyan———–Mathis——————-

Johnson——————Morales—————-Kovalenko

————————–Beckerman————————-

Russell———-Olave————–Borchers——-Wingert

————————–Rimando—————————-

BENCH– Seitz, Beltran, Deuchar, Espindola, Findley, Joy, Williams.

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PRE-GAME– I was able to say hello to Dema Kovalenko before the match. He was in a good mood and hadn’t put on the snarly game face yet. For those of you who missed it, Kovalenko took a few more shots at Juan Carlos Osorio this week and told me that his biggest issue was that Osorio didn’t tell him in person when he finally traded him away. Osorio denies not having communicated to him that he was on the way out. It will be interesting to see A) if Kovalenko starts tonight and B) what kind of performance he has tonight.

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PRE-GAME– Here is tonight’s starting lineup for the Red Bulls:

—————-Angel———Wolyniec—————

Van Den Bergh—–Ubiparipovic———Richards

————————Sassano———————

Goldthwaite—-Jimenez—-Mendes——-Leitch

————————Cepero———————-

BENCH– Patterson-Sewell, Boyens, Cichero, Kandji, Magee, Pietravallo, Rojas

Andrew Boyens is in the 18-man squad but not starting as there were concerns about his forearm injury and ability to function with the cast he is wearing.

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PRE-GAME– There are three New York journalists here for tonight’s match. Michael Lewis of the New York Daily News, SBI senior writer and MLSnet contributor Dylan Butler and me. Funny enough that eight years ago there were also three New York area journalists at the MetroStars-Chicago Fire Eastern Conference final Game three. The Star Ledger’s Colin Stephenson, The Bergen Record’s Tim Leonard and me. It was colder that night than tonight, but the night is young.

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PRE-GAME– A contingent of between 40 and 50 Red Bulls fans have made it here for the match. They haven’t made their way into the stadium but I’m sure I’ll hear them when they get here.

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PRE-GAME– Anybody wondering whether the crowd here will make noise should know that Real Salt Lake will be getting a major noise boost from the Mount Crest High School marching band, which has set up shop in the middle of the upper deck.

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PRE-GAME– Taking the term fashionably late to a new level, the Red Bulls didn’t make it to their locker room until 6:18pm local time. The combination of traffic and a bad bus driver (and the shocking absence of a police escort) had the Red Bulls here exactly 78 minutes before kick-off. Somebody dropped the ball big time.

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