BY MIKE NASTRI
Two first half goals by Eddie Gaven and Andy Iro lead the way for the Crew in a 3-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls.
The ex-Red Bull/Metrostar, Gaven, came back to bite his former team, scoring the first goal of the match and assisting on the second. It was a big game for both teams with first place on the line. The Red Bulls created more chances and dominated possession throughout the game but still found themselves on the losing end.
Playg without their three best players (Guillermo Barros Schelotto to suspension and Chad Marshall and Robbie Rodgers to USMNT camp), the Crew came away satisfied with its performance.
"We played well enough to score three goals away from home and that's how we played the game," said Crew head coach Robert Warzycha. "Obviously they had their chances; they hit the pole two times and the crossbar off the free kick. Listen, we scored three goals."
The Red Bulls missed a golden opportunity to take three points from the best team in the Eastern Conference. But, finishing, a problem that has plagued New York throughout the first two months of the season once again was the main culprit for the loss.
"It was just not bouncing for us," said forward Dane Richards. "They got a couple chances, they finished them. We got a bunch of chances but couldn't finish. We hit the post, wide, just over, and it was a tough game for us."
The misses started in the tenth minute when Chris Albright, who made his MLS return with his start in right back, played a ball down the wing to Seth Stammler. The midfielder had a great first touch to beat his defender and found a streaking Juan Pablo Angel who with a cute move to get by Eric Brunner, nailed a ball just wide of the left post.
After dominating for the first 35 minutes, the Red Bulls found themselves down a goal when Crew captain Frankie Hejduk found a streaking Eddie Gaven for a diving header goal.
"It was huge [getting the first goal], they were dominating a bit like the home team is supposed to be, said Hejduk.
"The home team is supposed to dominate games, especially a team like the Red Bulls, they are a good team and we were sitting back a bit, letting them get a few chances. It was a very opportunistic goal, we had once chance, two chances, and then boom, we scored the goal and then two minutes later we scored another goal so it was 2-0 before you knew it."
The Red Bulls down a goal, quickly got back on the offensive as Sinisa Ubiparipovic had goalkeeper Will Hesmer beat but saw the ball glance off the left post. But that second Crew goal would come just two minutes later off a corner by Gaven finding Iro for the power header past Bouna Coudoul.
The second half would be much of the same luck for the Red Bulls once again controlling the pace but could not capitalize on their opportunities with Dane Richards and Juan Pablo Angel both hitting woodwork.
New York would finally get on the board in the 82nd minute when a cross from Danliegh Borman found Tony Tchani for his first MLS goal. But, the Crew would ice the game a minute later when Emilio Renteria, a second half sub, finished a breakaway coolly past Coundoul for the 3-1 lead. It was a goal that put the nail in the coffin for NYRB.
"I think when we got to 2-1, I thought we had a decent chance to equalize the game, because it was only way," said Juan Pablo Angel. "The third goal just killed the game for us."
Mike Petke's 300th MLS start did not go the way he or the Red Bulls wanted as the central defense failed to mark up on both first half goals for the Crew. A miscommunication between him and fellow centerback Tim Ream caused Emilio Renteria's breakway to ice game for the Crew in the 83rd minute.
"I was calling for it to be my ball to head back to Bouna and he (Petke) was calling it for him to clear out," said Ream.
"I think we were in good positions to do both of those things. We both hesitated thinking the other guy was going to go. There, one guy just has to take charge, doesn't matter who it is, it has to happen. And it cost us."
The Red Bulls passing game was in fine form throughout the match, but three key mistakes and lack of finishing cost NYRB valuable points.
"Probably our best performance so far in this league, if you at the possession, if you look at creating chances and putting a team like Columbus under pressure like that, said Hans Backe. "Two and a half individual mistakes killed the game for us and you can never in a way train to get rid of individual mistakes."
At the end results are what count in the MLS, and despite a solid effort, the Red Bulls find themselves losers of their last three games after a 5-1 start. The team is struggling to score goals breaking a two match scoreless streak late in this game. The finishing has to improve in order for the team to get results going forward.