HARRISON, NJ – Coming off of a loss and missing their head coach, the New York Red Bulls wanted to make a statement. A mere 12 minutes into Saturday night’s match against the Revolution, suffice to say they were able to do just that.
After dropping a 2-1 result in their first meeting against the Revolution at Gillette Stadium, the Red Bulls put their foot on the gas from the opening whistle on Saturday and never let up. A lackluster New England defense was swiftly punished as the Red Bulls scored early and often, netting three times in quick succession to put the match to bed in the early going.
“Credit to the guys,” interim head coach Denis Hamlett, filling in for a suspended Jesse Marsch, said after the match. “The message to them was that we want to make sure that, at home, we’re in attack mode. We want to take the game to the [opposition] and tonight the guys were able to do that. We finished our chances and we’ve created a lot of chances at home this year, but we just didn’t finish them. Tonight we were able to finish them and it makes the game a little bit easier.”
Indeed the finishing was near flawless on the night. While chance creation has hardly been a problem for New York in 2015, the final product was sorely missed throughout their five-game league winless streak earlier this summer. But on Saturday night, there were but a few missed chances to lament.
“We didn’t do anything differently, we just executed better,” winger Mike Grella told MLSsoccer.com. “I’ve said from the beginning that goals will come. We were outplaying everyone that we played, but we weren’t good enough in both boxes. Even tonight, maybe the chance they score was a little too easy. But 4-1 at home, I think we dominated in every department.”
For the members of the squad that suffered defeat at the hands of the Revolution in last year’s MLS playoffs, Saturday night’s match meant just a bit more. Admittedly bullied in their first match up of 2015, captain Dax McCarty took it upon himself to impose a new mindset for his team, one that proved to be the difference.
“We talked before the game about having a good start, and the word I used was to just be ruthless,” McCarty said. “This is a team that has given us trouble the past couple of times we’ve played them and I think it’s mainly because they’ve outfought us and outworked and beat us up on the physical end. So we wanted to make sure we set the tone early, right from the opening whistle.
“You always want to get an early goal; scoring three is like hitting the jackpot.”
A win against a conference opponent leaves the Red Bulls in solid standing, now second in the East. But for some, the animosity between the two squads on the pitch makes the win feel like more than just another three points.
“It’s no secret; the guys in this locker room will tell you that we really, really don’t like New England,” McCarty added. “I’m sure they’ll say the same thing. I’m friends with a bunch of those guys off the field, but on the field they’re a team that pisses me off more than most other teams in MLS. But that’s good. It shows that it’s a real rivalry.”
Eric Giacometti covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com.