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Practicing with 10 men comes in handy for Red Bulls vs. NYCFC

Chris Duvall David Villa 21

photo by Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports


HARRISON, N.J. — The New York Red Bulls practiced playing a man down on Friday, and it sure came in handy two days later.

The Red Bulls got back to their winning ways on Sunday night by picking up a 2-1 victory over crosstown foes New York City FC. Beating NYCFC at Red Bull Arena was an accomplishment in and of itself given all the hype that went into the two New York teams’ first meeting, but what made it all the more impressive was that the Red Bulls did so while playing with 10 men for nearly an hour.

Centerback Matt Miazga was shown a second yellow card in the 36th minute for a foul on Khiry Shelton, which left the Red Bulls to have to protect their 1-0 lead with a man disadvantage. Jesse Marsch’s side was, however, well prepared for the occasion, especially after having run through an exercise in Friday morning’s training session that emphasized how to be disciplined, organized and composed when playing with one less player.

In that drill, Marsch had an attacking unit of six or seven players go up against a three-man back line. The attackers had only a certain amount of seconds to score – think of a shot clock that Marsch counted aloud – and the defense had to try and stay compact so as to limit the quality of the chance they conceded.

“That exercise helped us to not be panicked, to stay calm at the back and just fight,” centerback Damien Perrinelle told SBI. “It was a good idea to do this exercise because tonight we needed it.”

Added Bradley Wright-Phillips: “Yeah, that sums up Jesse. We have done a few sessions playing against a man up so he leaves nothing to chance. Every little detail we know.”

It showed on Sunday. Pushed on by the largely pro-Red Bulls crowd of 25,217, the hosts did not seem to lose much after Miazga received his marching orders. The Red Bulls did not wilt nor did they bunker or try to throw numbers behind the ball.

Instead, they stuck to the gameplan and continued to high press NYCFC in smart positions up the field. It kept causing problems for Jason Kreis’ men, who looked lost and out of answers until late in the second half.

In fact, the Red Bulls found the eventual game-winner while playing down a man. On a counterattack in the 52nd minute, Lloyd Sam, Sacha Kljestan and Wright-Phillips all connected on a beautiful counterattacking sequence that ended with the Designated Player’s second goal of the night.

“We have talked about if we go a man down what the tactics need to look like,” said Marsch. “We still want to find moments to try and press and now compress the field and win balls and then when we do play forward and see if we can catch teams on the counter. We were able to do that effectively tonight.

“I thought we grew so much today and it was a character win and I’m proud of our team,” Marsch added. “I’m proud of our team probably more now than ever.”

While Marsch may have given credit for the win to the attitude and determination of his players, they cited his recent drills as being a key component in their ability to maintain their lead and come out on top against NYCFC.

Marsch has had them play down a man and some times two for occasions like Sundays, and it paid off handsomely as the Red Bulls did what they needed both tactically and mentally to close out the game with three points.

“Before we went out (for the second half), coach was saying, ‘We stick to it, we keep the right attitude, and we just play for the man that’s down,'” Red Bulls left back Kemar Lawrence told SBI. “We went out there and we did that. We already trained a couple days with a formation like that, so it was kind of easy to just switch up.”


    • This is also Miazga’s second red card in as many years. Both arose from rash, but not vicious, challenges. The second yellow on Sunday was especially unnecessary, as he had help and his “victim” was just crossing the midfield stripe. Anyway, we’ll get to see Zubar in Dallas. In related news, has Roy Miller essentially been beaten out of the LB spot by Lawrence?

  1. Reyna was a great, great player. Everything he touches as an executive or coach turns to shite.

    He is the guys who got fooled by a coach who worked as a trainer for Real Madrid RECREATION soccer team and brought him on as a full time National Staff coach to give us a ‘curriculum’ for player development which was an absolute embarrassment.
    This rec coach has since parlayed that into a position as head coach for the US under 18s and a spot next to JK on the full team. You can’t make this kind of incompetence up. Reyna is incompetent, so is Ramos, so was Lalas as a GM.
    These ex national team guys cannot keep getting important and influential jobs in our game. Harkes and Wynalda were smart enough to stay in broadcasting.

  2. 1.) City Sr hasn’t put together a great roster for City Jr. Perhaps they underestimated what was needed.
    2.) Kreis isn’t the biggest problem, but he sure hasn’t been great. Players out of position and too much patience with under-performing RSL guys
    3.) Blah Blah Frank Lampard Blah Blah

  3. Nycfc has been playing awful for the past games and playing in a small field like theirs is not going to help them.
    If you are a soccer fan, you would understand that the size of the field really matters mentally and when playing in a real size field it affects you. Same thing with the fake grass.
    Another thing I don’t f*cking understand, mls needs to help the expansion teams more! why wait till the year before. For example, Atlanta and la2 should ask garber to let them recruit players now and start practicing in Mexico and Europe. The sooner you start practicing and start gaining chemistry with the coach and fitness staff, the team will be better. What’s the point if having a half ass team with no chemistry.
    Start recruiting players 2 years before and practice all over the world, but the problem is that, there is no free agency to recruit players.

    • I see no reason why the league should be making it easier for expansion teams. You’re first year as an mls franchise should be a challenge.

    • The small field at Yankee stadium is all to do with the groundscrew not wanting to dig up and replace the pitchers mound for the change. Seems to me they could find a better solution rather than having their $100M franchise play on a kiddie sized field.

    • This is why you don’t try to create teams out of nothing (and with no stadium) just because some Sheikh throws a ton of money at you. When you give smeone deserving, like Sacramento or Orlando a team, they already have something to wok with and can start building well ahead of time. That said, no quality player is going to join a team and take a year out of their career just to play practice matches.

  4. Coach Marsch is really workin’ em hard. They’ve been doing two-a-days all week and it’s paying off. And the last couple days they did extra kicking practice at the end after the workout and throw-in drills. You can tell that their shooting is getting a lot better.

  5. For how good the Red Bulls played, NYCFC played just as poorly. They looked disjointed in attack and defense, with the midfield (Grabavoy in particular) giving away the ball needlessly. They need to get back to the drawing board, and figure out a way to get the most out of Villa, Mix, and Shelton if they are going to keep the ship afloat until Lamps gets there.

  6. Very impressive performance from Red Bulls. Anyone watching would have not noticed that RB was a man down for a full hour on a hot humid night. Well done Red Bulls! You made NYC look lost confused you humbled them!

    Soccer Blood


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