Let Sleeping Bulls Lie
It’s a really good thing Union don’t face New York Red Bulls again until October. RBNY looked dynamic in their 4-0 dismantling of DC United. Thierry Henry netted 2 goals and had his hand in Joel Lindpere’s strike (no, not THAT way), with Juan Agudelo dazzled for the cake-icing tally. But why does any of this matter to Union?
RBNY has now scored 7 goals in their past 2 matches. In their first 4 matches, they only scored TWICE. The last of that string was their frustrating (though beautiful to us) 1-0 loss in Chester. The aforementioned Agudelo struck the frame of the goal two times during that match, but never found a way to cross the goal mouth. Reviews of that match from NY’s perspective left them intent on finding answers, as it appeared what Union had done to them was the last straw. Philly has, apprarently sent them on a rampage through the rest of MLS. Again, I did note that it’s only been 2 matches since, but NY has looked every bit the world-beating, expected conference leader since their visit to PPL Park.
The first goal of the night was a result of the offensive organization that has been sorely lacking in Union blue. Jan Gunnar Solli, as a right back, worked a perfect sideline-running 1-2 combination, springing him open down the right wing. (Does that sound like something Union might be able to do? Gee, I wonder….) From there, a simple right-footed cross sailed to 1 of 3 box-charging teammates. It was to Henry, who firmly headed the ball inside the post. The second goal was more of the I-want-this-more-than-you-do type of play. Again, it was Solli who made the play. This time, he was already running the right flank when a ball was lobbed in between Solli and his defender. Solli muscled the man away from the ball and slid to center the ball into the 18-yard box. From there, the keeper wasn’t able to get control of it, and with Luke Rodgers boxing a defender out, Henry came in and pounded home his 2nd of the match.
The 3rd goal showed RBNY’s offensive depth and versatility. With a comfortable 2-goal lead, and Charlie Davies forgetting that soccer has an offsides rule (repeatedly! No wonder he got subbed off…), NY was content to sit back and defend. DC launched fruitless effort after fruitless effort, and then the Bulls sought a counter. Henry showed to a defensive clearance in the midfield, and quickly sent the ball forward to midfielder Joel Lindpere. Joel took care of the rest. He ran all the way to the 18 before being caught up. When the defender caught up to him, he kept running while Lindpere cut back from his left foot to his right foot, and confidently smashed his strike inside the near post. It would have been the most skillful goal of the night if not for the young U.S. international Agudelo. In stoppage time, Agudelo’s tenacity payed off. He was a 75th minute substitution, so the match was effectively over by the time he hit the pitch, but he wanted a goal badly anyway. While racing towards the top of the box, a pass from the right wing was just a step behind him. No matter, as he simply stopped on a dime, played the ball up into the air with his back foot, and used a roundhouse kick to play the volley past the hapless Bill Hamid. Where his touch failed him in Chester, it was at it’s exquisite best at RFK Stadium.
A favorite rouse of Red Bull faithful is that we, in Philly, have had a team for just 1 season and we have as many MLS Cups as they do. I now wonder if the April 9th meeting has created a monster that will hinder Union’s chances of reaching the post-season.