When the New York Red Bulls surrendered an equalizer shortly after scoring a beautiful opener on Sunday, it appeared as if their road woes were about to creep back.
The Red Bulls exorcised their road demons, at least for one match, on Sunday with an impressive 4-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium in which RBNY combined clinical finishing, sturdy defending and some nice passing sequences to put together a complete team performance, one that saw them grab their first-ever win in Houston.
“Here we had the run of play a lot of the game, but certainly they did, too,” said Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke after the match. “We just wanted to get our defensive shape right: start our two forwards at the top of the circle and 35 yards back is our back four and in between that is crunching them when they come in there.
“Whereas in the past, perhaps, after the first 5-6 minutes we get away from that, guys stuck with it. We stayed with it and they did the right things and we were able to one-two punch them on a bit of a counter or just effective finishing.”
From an offensive standpoint, the Red Bulls built on last week’s 2-1 triumph over D.C. United. Eric Alexander got the proceedings started with a quality 14th-minute finish after a string of nice passes, and Thierry Henry, Jonny Steele and Lloyd Sam all added tallies in the second half while constantly threatening Houston’s back line.
Defensively, New York benefited from a stout outing from centerback Jamison Olave. Left back David Carney, who helped set up the winner, and Markus Holgersson also held up relatively well, and 18-year-old debutant Matt Miazga chipped in late after Holgersson was subbed off with an injury.
“The centerbacks were rocks at the back, fullbacks done their jobs. It was perfect,” Sam said. “[Goalkeeper Luis Robles] chipped in with an important save, especially in the first half.”
All in all, Sunday’s win came as a result of a complete team effort and one that New York needed after their recent struggles away from Red Bull Arena.
“It’s probably one of the better 90-minute performances on the road we’ve put in,” Steele said. “People doubted us on the road, but we had to build on last week, build on this week and we’ve got six games left. So we’ve got to keep going and push for the Supporters’ Shield.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by email at Franco8813@gmail.com.