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Red Bulls show heart, but settle for tie after late Dynamo goal


The New York Red Bulls have advanced out of the first round of the MLS Cup playoffs just once in their 13-year history and few observers gave them a chance to do that this year against the two-time defending MLS Cup champion Houston Dynamo.

And yet, the Red Bulls, missing several starters because of suspension, injury and ineffectiveness, led 1-0 three minutes into the second half of the Western Conference Semifinal Series and carried that lead into the final five minutes of the game.

Yes, a one-goal lead after the opening leg is precarious, but it sure beats being level or down after 90 minutes. According to John Wolyniec, the Red Bulls went into a defensive shell too soon, they dropped numbers back and gave the Dynamo precious room to move and it resulted in the Dynamo’s equalizer in a 1-1 draw on Saturday afternoon at Giants Stadium.

“It was a bit early to start hitting long balls and I know myself I dropped in a bit and when you do that you give teams a lot of space to come forward,” Wolyniec said. “That type of team, if you give them too much field to play with, they’re going to put balls in the box and that’s what they did.”

Indeed, Wade Barrett served a ball into the box that was touched by Stuart Holden to Kei Kamara, who toe-poked the ball past Danny Cepero for the critical equalizer.

“The disappointment is there for us because we felt we should have won it,” Juan Pablo Angel said. “But it’s a 180 minute game. We already played the first half and we have the other half to play. Everything is there to play for.”

Angel gave the Red Bulls the lead three minutes into the second half, beating Eddie Robinson to Wolyniec’s quick cross from the left corner and heading it past Pat Onstad for his first career playoff goal.

Upset at the performance of several regular starters in a 5-2 regular-season ending loss at Chicago, Osorio changed his lineup and rolled the dice, starting relatively inexperienced players Sinisa Ubiparipovic and Luke Sassano in the center of the park. Osorio also went with a hunch and played veteran John Wolyniec up front with Juan Pablo Angel.

All three of Osorio’s midseason acquisitions – Venezuelans Jorge Rojas and Gabriel Cichero and Argentine defensive midfielder Juan Pietravallo – were not in Osorio’s starting XI.

“I thought last game, we were way too easy to play against,” Osorio said.

That wasn’t the case on Saturday. The Red Bulls fought for every loose ball and are unlucky to no come out of the game with more than a draw.

“I think we did just enough to have won the game against a very, very tough team,” Osorio said. “(I’m) very proud of the boys today. We competed and we limited them to a very few chances and at the end, I think there are more positives than negatives in this game.”

Despite the Red Bulls’ poor away form during the regular season – one win in 15 road games – New York players are confident about getting something out of the second leg provided they bring the same effort and play with the same passion next Sunday in Houston.

“If we bring the fight and we sharpen up a bit,” Wolyniec said, “I think we have a great chance.”


  1. The ref was wearing a Houston jersey during this game. Terrible officiating. The Red Bulls even if they move to RB Park or Arena or whatever the hell they plan to call it are still going to stink if they cannot find a midfield and a competent defense. I realize attacking soccer is what people want but RB was still attacking toward the end of this game but got caught badly on the counterattack and showed how tired they were. Classic Metro/Red Bull. Players here just don’t care and why should they when only a portion of the fans care?

  2. Things were going according to our best hopes, and then the team retreats and JCO brings on Pietrovallo. As I said before the match, I could have accepted even a home loss if the team went down swinging, playing aggressively for multiple goals to build a cushion for the second leg. I’d go for broke in Houston and put the pressure on from the opening whistle, or we’re looking at a 1-0 or 2-0 defeat.

  3. It was a good effort by RBNY. I thought the defensive lapse by Pietravallo and Jimenez over Holden and Kamara when Houston scored the equalizer was a real shame.

    The coach should have used his other substitutions to play for a second goal.

  4. A tired team of players with 2 substitutions left, and JCO just sits there and watches it fall apart. I was totally dumbfounded upon seeing this, and it was so damn frustrating. I like Wolyniec…I think the guy plays with heart, but he SHOULD NOT start above Kandji. Kandji has proven that he’s a threat, and yet JCO didn’t even let him touch the field. Even if Woly is feeling ok, fresh legs can breathe new life into the team, and could make a counter-attack a serious threat. Therefore, Houston wouldn’t have been as free to attack so freely at the end. I’m not saying that Kandji is necessarily the best option at that point in the game, but for the ONLY substitution to be Pietravallo? Come on…

  5. Good job RBNY getting rid of Arena so that we could get Osorio, who knows oh so much about getting South American talent. ahem. That lineup looks pretty similar to what we were playing with before

  6. To clarify….at one point late in the match, JCO yelled to John Woluniec and asked if he was still good. Wolyniec said he was so that is why JCO left him in the match and didn’t make the substitution.

    The team played with more fight and determination than I have seen all season.

    I thought Ubi worked very hard and I think he would have been even more effective had he gotten more time this season.

    Cepero, Sassano, and Wolyniec really made a difference with their workrates and really showed well of themselves. Jimenez did just enough. Boyens’ play was solid.

    I think the difference fo us was when Pietravallo came in for Ubi, but not because Pietravallo played poorly. It was because our shaped changed. It allowed Houston to push forward more. Richards was ineffective. I was expecting to see Kandji for Richards to put even more pressure on them offensively. Instead we subbed in a DM for an attacking player and sat back against a very dangerous team. Unfortunately for us, that coaching decision came back to bite us.

  7. Joamiq —

    Mbuta did not even dress. For reasons I cannot imagine Roth was on the bench and not him. Some posts said several players were slightly ill (Magee’s flu-like symptoms?). Short of that can’t imagine why Mbuta wasn’t in the 18.

  8. Aguinaga,

    Last time around Magee was also in the game and Houston had an additional threat to cover. This time around they could focus on the three I mentioned above because Woly was generally a non-factor.

    I understand Woly got the assist, but I think that’s more a case of Angel putting away almost non-existent opportunities rather than Woly actually creating a good opportunity. Had it been another striker at the end of the game, I believe Woly’s opportunity would have been in the back of the net. He really should have been subbed for Kandji. In fact, Kandji should have started instead of him in the first place.

  9. @Joamiq

    And I also thought Dane Richards had a GREAT approach. He was one of our fiercest competitors on the field. Not backing down from any 50/50 or physical challenge and showing a lot of heart.

    Osorio would be wise to leave Richards just where he is.

  10. Joamiq,

    Don’t know what you’re talking about. Richards is one of our best guys on the field every time he plays. He was marked tightly by Houston and our guys were frequently looking for him on long balls. I think he would have been able to contribute more had Kandji started instead of Woly and had Houston been forced to deal with multiple fast players.

    Basically our threat up front consisted of Van den Bergh, Angel and Richards and Houston made sure to double cover or tightly mark all three.

  11. Yameson, there was no elbow, it was a phantom call. Angel beat the defender on a 50/50 header and the ref penalized him for it. It happened right in front of me.

    Poor officiating. But this was the guy that gifted us an earlier game against RSL, I believe.

  12. Like I said pre-game, Mbuta over Richards. Dane did very little, Houston seemed to have well prepped for him trying to do what he did before. Other than a few jukes here & there in the first half, Dane was just about invisible.

  13. I was very upset by Dane Richards’ approach today. We missed opportunities because Richards was busy trying to justify his trash talk and show off. Why would you try to dribble through multiple opponents when you see that JPA is wide open in the box? His selfishness probably cost us at least one goal. He can still be effective in Houston, but if he doesn’t temper that ego, he ought to be yanked for Mbuta, who is more skilled than Richards anyway.

  14. This was JPA’s best game. He was everywhere, directing the attack and setting up chances for others like a center midfielder. It was lovely to behold. And it’s nice to see his killer instincts are also still intact.

    I was too far away from his yellow card foul to see very well. How hard was the elbow he threw?

  15. Roberto: I agree with the some of your comment, but I’m pretty sure Ives’ blog started off as a New Jersey Soccer blog and slowly grew to what it is today. Why wouldn’t there be an abundance of RBNY information/stories? I bet there are plenty of other sites to visit if it is too much for you.

    Let’s go to Houston next week and steal a series win.

  16. I was skeptical but all-in-all impressed with New York’s play, especially by JPA, van Den Bergh, Goldthwaite and the six replacements: Cepero, Leitch, Jimenez, Ubiparapovic, Sassano and Wolyniec; makes the decision as to who protect this off-season that much tougher. Good job by the young guns!

    I would have used the two subs the Red Bulls had … Wolyniec out for Kandji and Richards out for Mbuta. Both Wolyniec and Richards looked tired toward the end of the game. WHY DIDN’T JUAN CARLOS USED THE TWO SUBS HE HAD?

    SIX starters out because of suspension (2), injury (1) and ineffectiveness (3) and if Pietravallo should have been marking Holden on the goal then he should have never entered the match.

  17. hahaha “redbullfan” what an original nickname are you sure you are not working in RB office cause ur saying to many nice things about the team… Hahaha. Listen; this team and organization is horrible pathetic and not worthy to participate in MLS in short, they are a joke. Only Angel is a serious player that is out of place and clearly frustrated.

    So redbullfan you saying you loved sassano ubiparapovic boyens gimenez.. Wolyniec and magee? Please don’t make me laugh..please

    I’ve tried so hard as a NY resident to like this team since 96 and they’ve been the worst team I ever saw in my entire life in any category.

    All the players that left this team have become better players… M wynne, o’ rourke Gaven etc. Even j moreno sucked in Ny (not that I like him either)

    ok Ives why so much coverage on RB? On your blog? I love your site and visit it daily but lately its starting to annoy me seeing so much of RB and all photos of wolyniec.. The anti soccerplayer. It bothers me.

    JCO is a fraud too.. I can’t stand him he should have played kandji and Rojas… And for those of you that criticize Rojas , he’s a great player and just like Galvan Rey… Came to a team that is rotten and ruined their prolific careers… Sorry but I’m very upset with this team and cannot tolerate them at all, hope they one day dissapear.

  18. It’s tradition. Why settle for a 1-0 win when you can give up a late away goal to the defending champions?

    This unique approach will not make sense to most of the world, but it will make perfect sense to my fellow MetroStars/Red Bull fans. Nothing new here.

    Let’s see what we can do next week, and try to do it without a Jan Pablo Angel concussion or own goal.

  19. a tough tie to take. the red bulls had houston on the ropes and then coach osorio backed the team off into a defensive crouch. kinnear responded to the NYRB goal by subbing in holden and kamara and turning up the offensive heat. osorio faltered and resorted to one of his south american wash-outs in defensive midfield. well, guess which tandem scores the next goal?

    there is a difference between playing to win and playing to avoid losing, and osorio sadly fits into the latter category. by not increasing the pressure offensively and not putting houston back on its heels, osorio weakened the chances of success for NYRB’s shakey defense. credit is due to the back four and cepero – they stepped up to the plate today.

    it’s frustrating that kandji was not put into the game when houston upped the ante with kamara. osorio is frustating this fan and many others who were shouting for kandji. while grateful to wolyniec’s assist, we needed someone who could put the ball into the net other than JPA, who was very heavily marked.

    it’s tough to settle for a tie when the team could have continued to dominate the game.

  20. this was a tremendous game for us. all our guys played hard and we could have won the game. luke and sinisa were phenomenal.boyens and jimene did a great job on d along with kevin and leitch. vanden bergh and dane were a little under the weather.wolyniec worked hard and JP played well. cepero also made a couple of good saves and had no chance on their goal. pietravallo for sinisa is a reasonable decision since osario was looking at taking a one goal lead to houston. all in all, i believe this was one the best performances of the year against an excellent team perhaps the best in the league along with chicago

  21. I really enjoyed watching this game. The ref. really favored Houston very bad calls. I thought Red Bull played very good but gave up a stupid goal. They had about five chances and the score could have been 4-1. Angel played great as usual but I am no fan of John Woly and would like to see Kandi Woly purely CANNOT SCORE. I also thought that sinsa played great and should have been left in and sassano taken out for rojas and not petravallo who stinks. Boyens and Leitch great dee until the end.

    Much better job by Coach Osorio who I was bashing for some time but great job for the players we had and the quality of team Houston is so good job coach.

    GO Red Bull.

  22. By the way, attendance was weak tonight and the weather was pretty good.

    My wife and I got a pair of free tickets at the game from a family whose elementary school son plays in Westchester. They said 100 free tickets were given out.

    I wonder how many people actually paid for tickets for this game? Pathetic. I don’t think it will improve until the club puts a better product on the field. There were also a heck of a lot of people who where clearly at their first game and didn’t know much about the sport.

  23. Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. The team needed a win and instead walked out with a draw. When they were clearly getting tired, it was time for Osorio to put some offensive substitutions in. Osorio dropped the ball and we’ll most likely be made to pay for that in Houston next week.

    I’m sure he’ll find some way to undermine the confidence of his players.

  24. oh osorio, you fool, you were a genius… a pure genius for so long… then you go back to being a enigma and put in petravallo… you beautiful fool… i weep for the potential you have that is being wasted


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