HARRISON, N.J. – Playing against the best team in the league, it was New York who looked more like the class of the pitch than Los Angeles, despite dropping a 1-0 result on Saturday night. It was a matchup of the league's two glamour clubs as New York fielded three Designated Players on their Red Bull Arena home soil for the first time in club history. Four thoughts to take away from Saturday night’s loss:
1. Close, real close: Last week, New York coach Hans Backe said Saturday night would be a gauge of how good his club had become by going up against the standard for the rest of the league. Well, New York was dangerous, taking an advantage in shots and corner kicks and holding the majority of possession. It was a loss, their second loss in league play at home this season, but the positives are there and it’s not just blowing sunshine.
“One turnover cost us a goal, but I’m still rather happy with our performance," Backe said. "We didn’t overplay possession, and we played rather relaxed, and still created a number of chances. Once again, it’s a good sign for us that we can compete and control possession against a team like the Galaxy. Sorry for the result, but our performance I’m happy with.”
2. Oh no, Rafa: A bad giveaway in the 10th minute by latest signing Rafa Márquez gave Los Angeles the ball in good position and led to Edson Buddle’s goal. The Mexican National Team captain looked unsettled all game and never got into the flow and rhythm of the match.
“I am not happy at all," Márquez said "I need more time to perform to be at my best level."
New York don’t play again until Saturday, so Márquez will have time to adjust to his new teammates and style of play, but his home debut on Saturday night was forgettable.
3. What to do with Ángel: Check the message boards and Juan Pablo Angel, who a month ago was receiving heaps of praise from fans, is now being criticized. Ángel squandered several chances to score, but he was the most dangerous-looking forward New York put on the field Saturday night, including Thierry Henry. The Colombian is creating chances to score and his drought is nothing more than that – remember he’s just two games removed from a brace against Houston. He will bounce back.
4. Suddenly great Dane: If there is one enigma on this team, it is speedy winger Dane Richards. Perhaps the fastest player in the league, Richards has often been criticized as one-dimensional and suspect on the ball. But for the past few league games, the Jamaican has been playing some of the best ball of his career, even as the rest of the attackers have struggled to score.
Richards has shown patience on the ball and timed his runs very well, plus he is using his speed very well to cover defensively. He’s been working with assistant coaches Richie Williams and Goran Aral after practice on his decision making and crossing, and it seems to be working.
Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012