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Role players shine as Red Bulls blank Galaxy, 2-0

MarquezKirovski ( 

Photo by Michael Janosz/


Substance over style. 

On one of the biggest nights in the history of MLS, with four designated players set to shine, it was the complimentary players who were the most effective. Mehdi Ballouchy, Tim Ream and Dane Richards shined the brightest in the New York Red Bulls 2-0 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy. 

With Los Angeles starting a pair of defenders with a combined twelve games of MLS experience –after tonight's game — the game plan was a simple one for Red Bulls manager Hans Backe. Target the defenders Yohance Marshall and Leonardo early and often.

"When we had our team talk, we said we have to try to press the center backs and to make life hard for them as much as possible.So we didn’t drop to defend to the halfway line, we started much higher. We closed down on every goal kick, and our strikers — Ballouchy and Angel pressed them as much as possible," said Backe. "When everything works like this today, the shape, the right attitude, everyone ready to do the dirty work, you can win."

The pressure was a direct result of New York control in the center of the park. Rafael Marquez and rookie Tony Tchani were able to overwhelm the Galaxy midfield that struggled to find its shape. New York would break through in the 36th minute when a failed clearance by Marshall allowed a speedy Joel Lindpere to beat Leonardo to the ball and blasted a shot off that bounced off the left post. The subsequent rebound fell to Richards, who finished the chance for his third goal of the season.

The defensive problems continued for the Galaxy in the 60th minute. Richards used his speed to beat Marshall to a ball in the box and forced the Trindadian defender to bring down the swift Jamaican in the box. Referee Ricardo Salazaar pointed to the spot for the obvious penalty and Angel easily converted to give the Red Bulls the two goal lead. Following the match, Arena claimed that there was little that the Galaxy could have expected from their young center backs.

“Our organization in the back in the first half wasn’t good enough,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “For us to expect those two guys (Leonardo and Marshall) to come in and not make any mistakes, we’d have to be kidding ourselves."

While the defense for the Galaxy was patchwork in nature,they struggled throughout the night to maintain their composure. Countless times, the Galaxy midfield was unable to connect the final pass which prevented the Galaxy from creating any real attacking threats. The Galaxy's midfielder Juninho struggled in particular to connect a string of passes for the second straight match. 

In addition to giving up possession to the Red Bulls, the Galaxy seemed to unable to settle throughout the match. Their drives up field seemed frantic which allowed New York to prevent Galaxy scoring chances. After midfielder Dema Kovalenko left the match with a right adductor strain, the stress on the midfield grew more intense as David Beckham was forced to go a full 90 minutes for the first time this season. With a great deal of focus on the match on them, Donovan admitted that his team may not have been ready for the match. 

“Our problem was just our effort," said Donovan. “It’s hard to wonder why, for a game like this, we weren't ready to come out and play.”

Another reason for the Galaxy's poor offense was the consistent play of Ream. Although the rookie defender from St. Louis struggled in his first journey to Home Depot Center against Chivas USA, on Friday night, he was effective in shutting down Donovan and Edson Buddle. The Galaxy were frequently unable to send crosses into their attackers in the box with out Ream clearing their efforts. This play earned Ream a great deal of accolades from Arena after the match. The defender admitted that there was a significant change in quality from the last time the Red Bulls took the Galaxy in August.

"We came out with more confidence this time and our guys were much fresher," said Ream. "As a team we possessed the ball, played great defense and prevented them from having many real chances and those that they did have, we handled pretty well."

The victory moved the Red Bulls into a first-place tie in the Eastern Conference with the Columbus Crew, which has a game in hand and plays New England on Saturday.  The Galaxy remains in first place in both MLS and the Western Conference, three points ahead of second-place Real Salt Lake

Los Angeles will look to rebound in its next match against arch-rival Chivas USA on October 3rd while the Red Bulls return home to Red Bull Arena to face the red-hot Kansas City Wizards. After claiming that Los Angeles was adept at rising to the occasion in big matches — and shrinking in this one–, Donovan was blunt about what the Galaxy must to do when they face their biggest rivals.

"We need to get better, plain and simple." 


  1. pink cows? nice one. hilarious! because cows are GIRLS and pink is a GIRL’S color!! it’s like you’re calling them girls! you should write for dane cook.

  2. I HATE losing and I HATE losing EVEN more to ANY team from New York…

    I began to pout about the 60th minute last night and had to fight off the strong temptation to trip that dude in the NYRB jersey as he passed me on his beer run… That stupid “i’m winning and I’m from New York” grin on his face plus how poorly my Gals played left my ride home sad and depressed.

    Alas, its only one game and Omar will be back patrolling the Galaxy back line stopping any nonsense like what happened last night and my Gals will STOMP the Pink Cows in the finals…

  3. I’m happy about the RB win, but dont be fooled into thinking they are the best team in the league just because they beat a disjointed LA team.

  4. The Galaxy looked POOR.

    How does a guy like Tristen Bowen make an MLS team? The dude had multiple opportunities to make something happen with the ball at his feet, but his incredibly heavy touch always gave it right back to New York.

    At least Dane Richards’ heavy touch put the ball in the back of the net.

  5. It was great to see Petke back but THE RUST WAS THERE!! Lol. And it was very noticeable. It’s ok though…he held his own.

    Any news on the Talley injury?

  6. The win was all the more impressive given the absence of Henry and Albright and Marquez’s spotty passing. I know that part of his role is to try the risky, high-reward play, but as in the Dallas game, I saw too many giveaways and too many intercepted passes. His composure in the back is still unmatched, though, and I think he gives the back line tremendous confidence. The RBNY back four, by the way, were terrific all night. Nice to see Mike Petke get some meaningful minutes and acquit himself nicely.

  7. I’m surprised you didn’t give Miller any props. He played a TREMENDOUS game in the back and shut down Donovan on a number of plays; it was his best game by far this season. His decision making was great and made the Galaxy’s counter-attack not very effective. Although Ream did play a good game yesterday, Miller killed it.

    As for the Richards goal, it wasn’t a cross. Lindpere was hoping to bang it in the net but was unlucky to hit the crossbar. Dane Richards was just in the right place at the right time and was able to get the rebound and tap it in the net. All around a great play by Lindpere though, wish his shot had found the net.

    In another note, the formation we played yesterday was perfect. In last week’s upsetting draw against FC Dallas, we did play lone striker but it was a 4-2-3-1 type of formation. It was obvious that our midfield was crammed with players and they couldn’t control the ball because of the gangbanging in the middle. The 4-4-1-1, allowed Ballouchy to really free-roam the field and check-in more often. It also allowed them to keep switching sides until they saw an opening. This formation will be lethal once Henry return’s to the pitch because he is much faster than Angel and can make better runs as well.

    I think Carl Robinson’s last 20-25 minutes of action was better than Rafa’s performance all game. He wasn’t even noticeable, and really ineffective. Although I’m not saying to bench Rafa and put in Robinson (That would be very dumb), I’m just saying that Robinson is his perfect replacement in such situations as today.

    Yesterday’s performance was great and excited to see this formation once Henry takes the pitch again. Good game!

  8. The Red Bulls are gonna run rampant in the playoffs once everyone gets on the same page, and when that happens they better learn Japanese because they are going to have to say sayonara.

  9. Let’s see:

    Fall asleep before the game starts? Check.
    Forget to set TiVo just in case? Check.
    Game on ESPN so no MSG replay? Check.
    Cablevision doesn’t support replay? Check.



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