HARRISON, N.J. — Friday night’s 2-1 win over New England was another match in which the Red Bulls held the run of play and generated quality scoring opportunities, but mental lapses and gaffes let their opponent hang in the game. This time, however, they won the match, and the Monday Gaffer takes a look at just how they did it.
1. This is What Winning Feels Like: It had been five MLS matches since the Red Bulls last won, a 1-0 victory over Kansas City on April 30. New York didn’t play poorly during the stretch – which included four ties - but continual breakdowns and errors negated strong performances.
Friday night against the Revolution, the Red Bulls scored goals in both halves and rode a Greg Sutton penalty kick save to the win. It was much needed.
“A huge win,” midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy said. “And I emphasize huge.”
2. Sutton Saves: In the first half, center back Stephen Keel got his feet tangled in the penalty area with Revolution forward Rajko Lekic as both players chased down a ball. The result was a penalty kick by Shalrie Joseph, which Sutton saved. Sutton has now saved two penalty kicks on the year, the last one being a few weeks ago against Colorado’s Jeff Larentowicz.
“The penalty kick against Colorado, more or less hit it into my body. If he had kicked it into the corner, I think the same result probably would have happened,” Sutton said. “The one tonight, even though I guessed right, he hit the ball hard. I was fortunate enough to get my hand out there far enough. When you have a seven-foot wingspan it doesn’t hurt, that is for sure.”
3. Killing the Game: Last weekend, the Red Bulls walked away from a home match with Columbus with a 1-1 tie, conceding a stoppage-time goal to give away the three points. This time against the Revolution, they were able to ride out the match with the lead; the Red Bulls killed the match and got that monkey off their back.
In the final few minutes, the Red Bulls held possession well as the Revolution pressed for the equalizer and when necessary, they just simply cleared the ball out of danger.
“We got the win and we played smart to hold onto it,” Ballouchy said.
4. Road Warriors: The win was necessary with four road games ahead for New York, three of those on the West Coast. The Red Bulls had to take the maximum points at home against a beatable team and now they go into their road trips with momentum, starting Sunday in Portland.
“Good effort, hard-working, a little bit lacking but overall mentally it’s important we got three points,” head coach Hans Backe said. “Now we are going on the road for four games to the West Coast, so it is a tough few weeks for us.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer