HARRISON, N.J. – He may not have received as many plaudits as goal-scorer Tim Cahill, but Jámison Olave was showered with praise all the same following the New York Red Bulls’ 1-0 victory over the LA Galaxy on Sunday.
Olave was a monster in the back for New York, breaking up waves of attacks against a Galaxy side that Thierry Henry admitted outplayed the Red Bulls. The Colombian veteran's outing against the likes of Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane kept the hosts in the game even as the Galaxy pushed for an opener, paved the way for Cahill’s 91st-minute header and also led to Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke saying that no center back in MLS is better than Olave when he’s on his game.
“The biggest reason we brought him in here was for what he’s been doing,” Petke told reporters after the match. “We don’t expect him to be the point man, to be honest with you. The way he hunts the ball, the way he reads the game, his catch-up speed is unbelievable, and he’s a guy who makes the difference.
“From the first moment, the first tackle he gets into, he’s somebody that a forward is going to be looking over his shoulder for the rest of the game. He doesn’t do it dirty, he does it very timed, and he does it very well.”
Olave was heavily involved throughout the 90 minutes, but the first half saw him come up big on several instances. Whether it was with his blistering speed, ability to read the game or by sheer force, he provided some timely interventions to deny LA’s star-studded attack from taking the lead.
Things calmed down a bit in the second half for New York but, again, Olave was at the center of making that happen.
“I began speaking more,” Olave told reporters of what he changed in his approach for the closing 45 minutes. “I began speaking more because we were making some errors, giving them too much space, so we needed to discuss that at halftime and fix our errors so that we could be better in the second half.”
Olave was not willing to take all the credit for his impressive performance. The veteran pointed to having developed a better understanding with center back partner Markus Holgersson as part of the reason why the Red Bulls have been so stout defensively in recent weeks and why he was able to help deliver a cleans heet on Sunday.
“It was a question of time,” said Olave. “At first it was about adapting and now we know each other. He’s an excellent player, does things very well. I know how he plays now, he knows how I play and that has allowed us to cover for one another a lot better.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com.