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Red Bulls reserves step up in another shutout win



David Beckham.  Landon Donovan.  Edson Buddle.  Robbie Keane.  In the world of Major League Soccer, these names are the equivalent of Mount Rushmore when talking about offensive firepower.  This weekend, the New York Red Bulls and there rag-tag group of rookies, newcomers and role players managed to shut down the foursome in a remarkable 1-0 win at the Home Depot Center.

“Yes, it is phenomenal the way they worked today,” Coach Hans Backe said after Saturday's match.  “Also against New England, and when you go into playing Saturday, Wednesday, then Sunday next week, you need some fresh legs because you can’t just defend like this.”

No name defenders Tyler Ruthven, Connor Lade, Brandon Barklage, and newcomer Markus Holgersson led a pieced together Red Bulls side, earning New York three vital points on the road for their second consecutive shutout.

“It’s such an un-experienced back four; I think they have 20 (professional) games together,” Backe said, “and it is their second clean sheet. The whole team just worked their ass off. Normally when you have so many starters out you are forced to defend and they did it phenomenally. It was a definite team effort. They were under pressure but didn’t allow them a real opportunity.”

The Red Bulls have been a hobbled bunch of late.  Thierry Henry highlights a group that includes Teemu Tainio, Wilman Conde, Roy Miller and Rafa Marquez who were unavailable for the only match of the season against Los Angeles. 

In their absence, role players have filled in admirably as the team continues to collect points at a surprising rate.  Midfielder Dax McCarty has been key during this time, stepping up as the team’s lone defensive midfielder.  Usually a two way transitional player, McCarty displayed a surprising bite in the Red Bulls defensive effort for a second consecutive match that helped keep the Galaxy at bay.

“I try to stay in the middle of the park and be an outlet for those guys – be a bulldog, be tough, be a defensive midfielder,” McCarty said.  “I just try to play my role.  I told Hans when he first introduced me to it, he said ‘Listen, we need you to do a job’ and I told him I am up for it.  It’s a team effort.  I play a small part in the overall scheme of the defense.”

Rookie Ryan Meara, who put in another impressive performance in earning his second consecutive shutout, agrees.  “Dax was huge just like last week,” he said. “By the end of the game, he almost turned into the fifth defender, the third centerback.  He’s played 100-200 games in the league and his experience really helps us younger guys to get through tough times like that.  He was great again.”

For McCarty, the feeling was mutual.  “Give Ryan Meara a lot of credit,” he said, “some big time saves again.  And the back four – what can you say – those guys work their tails off.”

That work rate enabled New York to overcome quite a talent gap with a solid tactic that kept the team competitive.

“You’ve got to stay disciplined – that’s the name of the game against LA,” McCarty continued.  “Beckham drew us out wide and they tried to whip crosses in.  They do a good job of getting Buddle, Keane, Donovan and Magee and whoever came in the second half in the box.   I think there were a number of times where they had six guys in the box easily.”

“New York came here, they worked hard, they came here to get us on the break, and then defend with all of their players,” Galaxy midfielder David Beckham observed.  “It was successful for them tonight. Sometimes it’s not the prettiest way of playing but it can be effective. We tried to break them down, we had our chances, we didn’t finish the chances we had and we got sloppy in defense with a couple of plays.”

“Its cynical soccer,” McCarty said.  “It’s not pretty, it’s ugly, but hey, we don’t care.  We got three points and we go back home and try to get some healthy bodies.”


  1. +1 on that one, we have to rely on injuries and suspensions to force our head coach to, you know, play young people with a promising future. Some of them were even American, go figure.

    Nah, I’m not bitter.

  2. These injuries/suspensions might have been a big hidden blessing for RB. Giving these kids some experience and knowing that they can be relied on to do a job if necessary is huge for a team that seemed to be sorely lacking in depth. Not that Backe will ever actually take advantage of depth by making substitutions or rotating the squad, but it’s nice to know it’s there in case of emergency.

  3. Many, nearly all soccer pundits picked Galaxy , to repeat. Were they wrong? Why have you given up after 10 games?

  4. I don’t see how Red Bull won. They are a CORPORATE TEAM. They lack PROPER FOOTY CULTURE! They only want to sell energy drinks. They should eat meat pies & be more like Toronto.

    I know! I’m English! I own a soccer shop! I and I alone know what true footy is!!!

    You Yanks are clueless! No terraces!No chip stands! No pitch invasions!

    Bah! Humbug!!!

  5. United tried out Barklage at right back last year, mostly in reserve league games. Maybe an Open Cup match, too. He struggled mightily to defend. Then, he got hurt again. Had so much bad luck with United. I’m thrilled for him that he’s found a good place to land. You won’t find anyone with more hustle and he’ll surprise you with some moments of real skill.

    Interesting that Brettschneider and Barklage got starts this past week. Good for them.

  6. Everyone is overrating this victory/defeat. This is the nature of football. You have a talented team in LAG that is not in form and not playing on the same page against an injury riddled squad that is determined to bunker in yet has enough talent offensively to pull a rabbit out of a hat. This is hardly shocking. Look at what Chelsea was able to accomplish against a vastly superior side in the CL. A couple of LD’s crosses missed by inches, yet some folks are calling for neophytes like Gatt or Gyau to replace him in the USMNT lineup. Sometimes it is only a matter of those inches between tears and glory.

    As good as LAG is individually, they will still blow their share of games during the season. It is a long season, and it is not as easy for the older vets of European football to match the intensity level of a 22-27 year-old getting his first and/or possibly his last opportunity to latch on with the MLS. Guys like Lade, Ruthven and Barklage are desperate to make an impression and will run themselves into the ground. Desire and energy are huge parts of this game and LAG is coming off of a dream season. Even for a master motivator like Bruce, it will be tough to get these guys playing at their absolute peak energy level while conversely, every other team is dying to beat them.

  7. Well, LA did lose to them already in CONCACAF Champions League play, so I think BSU SC’s point holds.

  8. I was thinking the same thing. The original starting back four were skiddish and scary (save for when Conde was in the line-up). These four guys were so good as a group and defended like crazy. I liked Solli in the midfield with Joel in the middle. Why should we just slot Miller and Solli back into the full back positions? Every spot should be fought for. Look what benching Lindpere did. Dude’s a beast again.

  9. Ditto, as a Galaxy season ticket holder, I am not expecting much from this club at this point further, especially when we will see Keane gone for the Euro Championships and Donovan gone for WC qualifying. Not sure if Becks will make the Olympic squad at this point. I hope he does. I would like to see our young players play out the season. After flaming out of the CONCACAF Champions League and near the bottom of the MLS standings, I think it may be time to think about retooling this club. Infuse with some younger, more energetic talent. Time to look towards the future.

  10. All things considered, I think LA losing this game has to be one of the most embarassing losses for any team in MLS history. The top four offensive players for LA have played in more World Cup games than the New York defense has played professional games.

    If the Galaxy can’t win this game then I don’t expect much of anything out of them or the rest of the season.

  11. Good stuff from NYRB, but LA seemed so unimaginative to me. Cross after cross, long ball after long ball. It just seemed like they were never going to get a goal.

  12. It was oddly enjoyable to watch as a NYRB fan. The energy level of LA in the first half was so low. I have no idea what is up with that team. Was Gonzalez the spark, glue of that team? Maybe. As for the NYRB startes, do they waltz back in to their starting spots? Do you all think anyone has earned the starting role?


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