Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports
By MATT STYPULKOSKI
Though the Los Angeles Galaxy traveled east without Robbie Keane, the defending MLS Cup champions provided a measuring stick for the New York Red Bulls.
Although the Red Bulls didn’t get the win to prove it, they felt like they passed that test on Sunday with a performance that left their opponent on the back foot for much of the day.
“I thought our reactions and our awareness and our movement as a group was all very good,” Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch said. “Very, very good. In a lot of ways, the first half might have been one of our better halves this season. These are positives, that I feel like we continue to move ourselves along. Against a good team, we played really well and again, we’re a little bit unlucky not to get three points.”
That disappointment with the 1-1 draw, but delight with the performance, was a common theme in the Red Bulls’ dressing room after the match. And while midfielder Sacha Kljestan agreed with that assessment, he also drew another conclusion from Sunday evening.
“I think something that we can take a positive out of is you see the LA Galaxy, the defending champions, come into our stadium now and they’re so happy to walk away with a draw,” midfielder Sacha Kljestan said. “They wanted to kill the game off from the first minute and they didn’t care about anything but getting a point.
“So you see that respect from other teams and that’s important because when teams come here, I think they’re a little bit scared of us and that’s big.”
If opponents are indeed scared of the Red Bulls, it’s due to how they’ve opened up this campaign.
Despite a tumultuous offseason that saw a controversial coaching change, the departure of superstar Thierry Henry and questions emerge regarding the back line, the Red Bulls are the lone MLS side without a loss. The club has also recorded it’s best-ever start, with the six-game unbeaten run out of the gates this year topping a 3-0-2 performance in 2007.
“It shows us that we’re doing the right things, with the results,” midfielder Lloyd Sam said. “We knew that, from the preseason, the way that things started, it was going well. To get the results with it, it confirms that you’re doing the right things. So we just want to keep doing what we’re doing and not change too much.”
One of the things the Red Bulls have done exceptionally well over the season’s first six games is rebound from deficits. The squad has fallen behind three times, but managed a win and two draws in those matches.
“At half, the message was, ‘The goal is coming,'” Marsch said. “And make sure that we all believe that and know that if we’re on top of the game, that it’s coming. We have gone down in games, but we haven’t wavered, so that’s a really good sign.
“Again, in that way I think it’s another step forward, too. This team continues to grow and it’s early, so if we can grow like this every single game, then we’re in good shape.”
Virtually every expert and most pundits, picked NYRB to win this game. They were at home, mostly at full strength, and were full of confidence.
The Galaxy, on the other hand, were without the MLS and Galaxy. MVP and several other key players. They were also playing away where they have failed to win a game on the road since forever.
Yeah, the Galaxy were happy with an away point and yeah they could have played better, but when you score with an 18 year old rookie in only his second start, are without several key players and are playing an undefeated team, to come away with a result is all frosting from a team in the cupcake division.