Red Bulls show they’re the class of New York soccer

For the second time in four days, the Red Bulls beat one of their New York rivals. On Sunday, it was a 3-1 win at Yankee Stadium over New York City FC, and Wednesday night they beat the New York Cosmos 4-1 at Red Bull Arena.

In what could be called the Suburban Derby, the Cosmos, a Long Island team, and the Red Bulls, who play in Harrison, NJ, battled in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open’s Round of 16.

Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch said of the back-to-back derby wins, “Yeah, I think that if you take this game tonight it was a good start. They are a good team and they space the team well. They were beating our press because we were a little bit of one at a time but also because they are a good team with good players and a good system in place. Even when they put the goal in on us I don’t there wasn’t any panic on our team and I think we knew just to stick to the game and try to ramp it up another level. As we went on, even though we had some heavy legs on the field and everything else, if you want to compare it at all to Sunday then as time went on we kind of took over and it was only a matter of time before the game was ours.”

Red Bulls midfielder Sacha Kljestan, who played a big part in both New York Derby wins, said of beating NYCFC and the Cosmos, “It certainly feels good, it always feels a little bit better when you beat your rivals and so to win at NYCFC over the weekend felt really good, and I guess it felt probably a little bit extra special for us for the way that we did (win) the way we came back and the mentality we showed and how good we played in the second half.  And tonight was just a mentality game, and I’ve said that all along going into these games against lower division teams if our mentality matches theirs our technique and our skill and how good we are will shine through and today that was the case. I thought we had a good mentality, we were professional about things, we went about things in the right way, we kept our cool, and we put our goals away, so it was a good feeling.”

The Red Bulls and Cosmos enter the field. Photo by Jason Schott.
The Red Bulls and Cosmos enter the field. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Red Bulls got the scoring started early, with Lloyd Sam sending a pass to Sal Zizzo in front of the net for a header that found the back of the net to give them a 1-0 lead. Sam said of his assist on the goal, “I think someone won it in the midfield, Dax [McCarty] won it, he’s been great in the midfield breaking up attacks like that. Sacha [Kljestan] played it to me and he pushed it in front of and looked to cross and I saw he was wide open and thankfully the cross went straight to him and he done well to finish it.”

In the 16th minute, the Red Bulls were in possession, but a Cosmos defender poked it away and the ball had quite a spin on it as it was inches away from the sideline. Cosmos midfielder Walter Restrepo got it at the center line and raced down the right side into Red Bulls’ territory. He sent it in front to Leonardo Fernandes, who dropped it off to Lucky Mkosana coming down the right side and he fired it passed Red Bulls goalie Luis Robles to tie it at 1.

In the 33rd minute, it looked like Zizzo had another goal, as he had a close-range shot stopped and then fired in the rebound, but was ruled offsides. He technically was past the last defender, but the rule makes no sense on a play like that.

A short time later, in the 42nd minute, Sacha Kljestan had a corner kick and he sent it into the box to Anatole Abang, who headed it in to make it 2-1 Red Bulls, and that was the halftime score.

In the opening stages of the second half, Restrepo of the Cosmos had a great chance, but it just rolled by the right post.

A short time later, the Red Bulls’ Chris Duvall was coming into the box along the endline from the right side, and was pulled down. A penalty was called, and the Red Bulls got a penalty kick. Kljestan took it and buried it to make it 3-1.

The Cosmos’ last big chance came in the 63rd minute. Raul, their star from Europe who entered the game at the start of the second half, headed one off the crossbar, and that was followed by Mkosana hitting the right post. They never had a sniff for the rest of the night.

From then on, the story was the referees dealing with the head coaches, Jesse Marsch and the Cosmos’ Giovanni Savarese.

In the 74th minute, Kljestan was taken down in front of the Red Bulls’ bench and took a while to get up. He was taken down by the Cosmos’ Daniel Szetela, who taunted Sacha to get up. While this was going on, Marsch and Savarese were both giving it to the fourth referee, who is stationed at midfield. After each said their peace, they shook each others’ hands, as they must have been arguing the same point.

In the 83rd minute, the Cosmos’ Hunter Gorskie and the Red Bulls’ Chris Duvall were going for a ball, and Duvall took the worst of it, as he would up being taken off the field on a stretcher. While Duvall was being tended to, Savarese gave it to the 4th official, while Marsch, just a couple feet away, gave it to one of the side officials.

With Chris Duvall being tended to, Giovanni Savarese (left) and Jesse Marsch have a word with the men in yellow. Photo by Jason Schott.
With Chris Duvall being tended to, Giovanni Savarese (left) and Jesse Marsch have a word with the men in yellow. Photo by Jason Schott.

Marsch said of Duvall’s status, “We are all hopeful that Chris isn’t as bad as it looked. He has been a very important guy and hopefully it is just a bad contusion.”

Marsch said of the play, “I think they both went in hard but I think that Chris wend in sideways and I think Gorskie went in more with his studs up. I think it should have been a red card I don’t know what the ref was looking at frankly. Again, that is endangering an opponent, that is the definition of endangering an opponent.”

The game did end on a good note for the Red Bulls. In the 90th minute, Mike Grella came down the right side and, when he hit the corner of the box, dribbled the ball left, and then switched it back to his right, and in the process, the Cosmos’ defender fell down, giving Grella a clear shot at the net, and he scored to make it 4-1.

Grella said of the goal, “No, I just did a step over and immediately thought to get it on my left. I made a little bit of space to shoot with my left and as soon as I have that advantage, he almost has to slide and if he doesn’t I shoot with my left and if he does, I go back to my right.”

On thought process on that play, Grella said, “One of my better attributes is probably dribbling and doing that kind of stuff. So, it almost comes natural to me. But, I just want to make space to create a shot; in the end that’s all that I want to do. Whatever I do before that is all into creating a good shot to get a good look on goal.”

Mike Grella. Photo by Mike Lawrence.
Mike Grella. Photo by Mike Lawrence.

Grella said of being from Long Island and playing in New York Derbies, “I wouldn’t say it means more to me. It’s just good, like I was saying on the radio, this team has given me my chances. Management has given me my chances. I will never forget that. They gave me a chance to come back from Europe. Especially, when a lot of teams where making it difficult for me, including the Cosmos and NYFC. But, I have respect for all the teams, but no doubt this place is my home and I feel a real connection to them. I’m very happy to get a good result against these teams and prove that right now we are the best team in New York.”

Marsch said of Grella’s goal, “Mike’s goal was fantastic. We have seen some amazing goals from Mike in training. Stuff like that that is almost off of the playground. Cutting guys and making them look foolish sliding around and just under control shifting through players. Mike has been gaining so much confidence in the last two months and now it is finally paying off in goals and plays. I am happy for him, again I have referenced it but there is some negativity surrounding him publicly, which I think, is totally unwarranted and you can put him up with one of the most important guys on our team this year. Great goal for Mike.”

Jesse Marsch. Photo by Mike Lawrence.
Jesse Marsch. Photo by Mike Lawrence.

Marsch said of rotating players with back-to-back games, “We have invested a lot in our young players and they have got their chances at different moments. I also want to acknowledge the job that John Wolyniec has done with the USL team in preparing these guys as well as putting them in games that matter that is also within our system. When you see (Anatole) Abang, Connor Lade, Sean Davis and different guys step on the field they look like they don’t skip a beat and they fit with what we are doing. All these young guys continue to develop and mature is a big reflection on everyone within the club and players. Even the veteran guys have invested personally in these young guys to help them move along. A lot of the credit goes to guys like Dax (McCarty), Sacha (Kljestan) and Bradley (Wright-Phillips) and the kind of example that they show for the young guys every day. It has been a good couple of weeks but we can’t stop to enjoy too much we have to keep going.”

On beating the Cosmos after losing last year’s match, “Lloyd is the one within our group that referenced last year and said that he absolutely wanted payback and that it was important and that we handled it the right way. Dax was also one of them, he was mad because he wasn’t able to play last year so he wanted to play this year and make sure that it didn’t slip away.

Marsch said of taking on two New York teams, and refocusing for the Columbus Crew on Saturday, “It has been a lot of fun. Certainly we have shown, not just in the last two games, but I think we have shown that we are a good team and deserve to be treated as the premier club in New York City. That has meant a lot to us and we have taken a lot of pride in stepping on the field and showing that.”

Starting on June 16th, the Red Bulls have played games every three or four days. On the 16th, they beat the Atlanta Silverbacks in the US Open Cup, followed by a loss on the 20th to the Vancouver Whitecaps, then a win over Real Salt Lake on the 24th, followed by the win over NYC FC on the 28th, and this one just three days later over the Cosmos, On team’s play over the last stretch of games, Marsch said, “In all these games we are just trying to continue to push what we are about and the level of play. Even with the four losses in a row we wanted to make sure that we used that to learn about ourselves and catapult ourselves to a bigger and better place. I think we have but there is still so much work to be done and the job is not over.

“This job has been a good one I am very fortunate to be here. The belief that the organization has shown in me has empowered me to do the job the way it needs to be done. For the most part it just means leading these players to believe in themselves and believe in what we are trying to do and have a style. We have a style and I think it’s a style that we have grown to like and it gives us an identity. We are not perfect but we are something,” said Marsch.

New York Red Bulls midfielder Sal Zizzo on defeating New York City FC and New York Cosmos: “It feels great. I think coming into the season we always felt like we were a good team and maybe a lot of people didn’t have the highest expectations of us, but us as a group had a lot of expectations and we wanted to be the best team in New York and so far I think we’ve proved that.”

New York Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese said of the loss, “I think the mistakes we make, particular mistakes are the ones that put us in a difficult situation today. I thought we had moments of better play, we had the ball, we were creating chances, we were spreading the ball around very well, but there were key moments in which we give them the chance to find themselves in the right areas and they penalize us. The first goal, early, we didn’t cover the space well so they finish well. We come back into the game and then a set-piece, [we weren’t] marking well, 2-1, and then it becomes a little bit difficult. The second half we start, we have two chances, we can put ourselves back in it and then they find another situation on a PK that kind of killed us a little bit. Before that, I thought we were doing a very good match.”


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