(Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch – Photo by Mike Lawrence / Sportsday Wire)
The New York Red Bulls fought their way to a 4-3 victory over the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night, as Felipe got two goals late.
The Red Bulls entered this one needing a win, as they lost their first two games and were shutout in both games.
They got plenty of chances early in this one, including when Bradley Wright-Phillips got a point-blank chance in the 16th minute that Hosuton goalie Joe Willis made an incredible save on.
The Red Bulls kept the pressure on, and Sacha Kljestan scored the first goal of the season in the 22nd minute to give them a 1-0 lead.
Soon after, he Red Bulls were faced with some adversity. In the 32nd minute, Gonzalo Veron fell to the ground and had to leave the game with a hamstring injury. Mike Grella came in to replace him.
Houston tied it in the 35th minute, as Will Bruin scored on a long ball from midfield. Bruin scored again in the 41st, on a feed from Jalil Anibaba that went through the legs of Red Bulls defender Ronald Zubar, and that made it 2-1 Houston.
Right before the end of the first half, in the 45th minute, the Red Bulls lost another player to a hamstring injury, as central defender Gideon Baah had to exit, and Karl Ouimette came in for him.
The Red Bulls lost their other center back, Ronald Zubar, to a hamstring injury in the 54th minute, and Connor Lade came in to replace him. This was their third and final substitution.
Despite all the injuries, the Red Bulls came out strong in the second half, and in the 64th minute, they capitalized. Felipe fired a shot in, and the rebound off Dallas goalie Joe Willis bounced around the crease before mike Grella buried it to tie the game at 2.
Dallas responded a minute later, as Alex scored on a feed from Boniek Garcia to make it 3-2.
In the 77th minute, Kljestan set up Felipe on the left side just outside the box, and Felipe fired a rocket to tie the game at 3.
In the 84th, the Red Bulls were awarded a penalty kick at the top of the box, and Felipe took it and fired it past the wall set up by the Houston defense and into the net to make it 4-3 Red Bulls.
Houston got some good chances in the final minutes, their biggest coming in the 93rd minute when Red Bulls goalie Luis Robles made a point-blank save to seal the victory.
The Red Bulls do not play for two weeks, until they play at the New England Revolution on April 1. Their next game is at Red Bull Arena on April 9 against Sporting Kansas City at 7:00 pm.
Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch said of getting this win before the two-week break and not being able to make substitutions in the final 40 minutes, “Well, okay, so, yes. The first answer is, we needed a game like this. Second answer sort of feeds to that is now when I have no subs to make I have nothing to do with the game anymore. It’s them. It’s now their turn to do everything they can to find a way to win the game, and that was probably a good thing. The coach could just stay out of the way, and it was time for the players to show what they’re made of and step up. So maybe that’s a lesson for me moving forward.”
Marsch said of the mood of the team at halftime, “Yeah, I mean the funny thing for me was watching our team play nervy and a bit scared in the first half. Like we had the last two games and guys don’t want to lose balls and guys don’t want to make mistakes. I just tried to sat to them at halftime like we’ve never been a team that plays scared, right? The very first conversation I had with our team way back when was that there’s no – the only thing there is no tolerance for around here is not playing with everything you have.
“I just told them I don’t care if we lose this game. Go out and play, right? Go after the game. We needed some guys to step up. We needed some guys to make some plays. Obviously, Felipe does and we almost needed a performance like that to kind of bring some life back into our team, so that part was good.
“It’s a little bit funny. This can be an interesting business, and it’s not for the weak of heart. It rewards people and players that are brave and have courage and want to be in the toughest moments. It’s one of the things I like about this business is that when things get tough, that’s for me when it gets to be the most fun. So, I guess I had fun tonight,” said Marsch.
On if the Red Bulls were playing with a chip on their shoulders, Marsch said, “Well, again, so much of the talk about our team winds up being about and some it comes from me too, it’s about the high-press system and the tactics and how we do things. I’ve always said that’s only a piece of the puzzle. But what I think makes us us is a real strong mentality and commitment for each other and commitment to play for each other and then doing it at big moments.
“So I think that hopefully, and I believe this, that tonight will be a reminder of that because above everything else, you can throw the second thing out of the window. It wasn’t even like a soccer game; it was like a brawl. It was who is going to survive? Who is going to emerge? In the end, I’m proud of our guys for in that moment stepping up,” said Marsch.