Notes: Defense holds tight under attack

Amidst the distraction and clamor surrounding the departure of former head coach Mo Johnston on Tuesday morning, interim head coach Richie Williams laid out challenges for his squad - the first of which was to earn a clean sheet and stay solid defensively.

The Red Bulls abided on Wednesday night, limiting the Columbus Crew to a few minor chances as the clubs played to a 0-9 draw. The Crew's only major scoring opportunity in the contest was when forward Joseph Ngwenya beat a defender and blasted a low, left-footed shot that smashed off the left post.

"As a team, we got behind the ball and obviously Eddie Gaven is very dangerous in making runs and coming through the midfield, but we did an alright job," said defender Carlos Mendes.

Other than that, goalkeeper Tony Meola had a fairly quiet night, making four saves. Meola also earned his MLS-leading 60th-career shutout - his third of the season.

"It wasn't too difficult of a night for me," Meola said.

As the team has dealt with adjustment of playing a 3-5-2 formation where the wing backs are expected to supplant the three central defenders, Meola said that the team's energy level was better against the Crew than in the Red Bulls' 2-0 loss to Chicago on Sunday.

"Especially when you play a 3-5-2, the outside guys have to do a lot of work. Tonight, we had Amado [Guevara] and Danny O'Rourke in the middle of the field and the work rate needed to be there,' Meola said.

Despite the team's defensive performance, with three consecutive road games looming, the Red Bulls felt they should have earned the entire three points.

"I thought tonight was a good effort," Meola said. "We didn't get the result we wanted but we had two or three really compelling chances to score. That's all you can really ask for in a game, any more than that is a bonus. I don't remember them really putting us under pressure for a long period of time, so there's was an improvement, no question."

Guevara returns to center of play

Two years after his MLS MVP season, midfielder Amado Guevara is currently working himself back from a 2006 in which he has recorded just a single goal.

However, on Wednesday night against the Crew, Guevara was in his familiar role as the conductor in the center of the midfield, keeping possession and spraying balls to his teammates.

"Myself, I want to get more possession in the game," Guevara said through a translator. "[Interim head coach] Richie [Williams] is asking me to just be calm and recover the ball and I am doing this to listen to him."

Part of the reason Guevara's season has been relatively frustrating and uncharacteristic has been injuries. He was most recently hit with a first degree hamstring strain.

With an injury to Mark Lisi, Guevara's presence is needed for the team to be successful according to Meola, who spoke with the Honduran before Wednesday's game.

"I told him that this team is going to go as he and Youri [Djorkaeff] go," Meola said. "When those guys play well, we can do some things. I think he sees this as maybe some sort of a new life on the team where he gets to prove himself again."

And as for playing for Williams, Guevara is eager to contribute.

"I think we did well to play for Richie," Guevara said. "We did not get the three points we wanted, but really I think we are making progress and I feel really well to play for him."

Parke enjoys facing former 'mates

When Red Bulls defender Jeff Parke looked across the field Wednesday, he saw several familiar faces. Starting for the Columbus on Wednesday were former New York players Eddie Gaven and Tim Ward. And when Ward was substituted in the 70th minute, Parke's old back line partner Chris Leitch slotted in.

"They're good guys and you miss them ... but it's good to see them still in the league and still playing well," Parke said.

Gaven, who was traded for forward Edson Buddle at the start of the season, acquainted himself with New York's defense on a number of occassions Wednesday night - typical of his fearless nature.

"It's a challenge, he's a good player and running around with him out there, it's difficult because he's young and he brings a lot to the game," Parke said. "Going out there and competing with all three guys again, it's fun."


To report a comment, mouseover or touch the comment and then click/touch the flag icon (Flag).