Red Bulls Put Out Fire

The New York Red Bulls got a much-needed win on Wednesday night, as they shut out the Chicago Fire, 1-0, at Red Bull Arena.

They rebounded nicely after a disappointing outing on the road last Friday at DC United in which they lost 2-0.

The Red Bulls are starting to climb up the standings, as they now have 13 points (4-1-7), just four behind first-place NYC FC.

The first installment of the Hudson River Derby between the Red Bulls and NYC FC is this Saturday.

Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch said of keeping the momentum going into that big game, “The last thing we talked about is that we have a big game on Saturday. I looked at the lineup. New York City sat a lot of guys, so they got two good results on the road. They’re going to come back home with a lot of confidence, as they should and they’re a much-improved team. Patrick Vieira’s done a great job with that team. We know we’re in for a huge challenge. But I promise you that that will be something that we’ll be up for. We can’t wait and we’re really excited for that match.”

Marsch said of the Red Bulls bouncing back with a good result after the last match, “Yeah, we took the D.C. loss really hard. But to come back and respond, and listen, this game was never going to be wide open. It was never going to be a three, four, five-goal game. Chicago doesn’t play in games like that. They keep things very tight. They make themselves very hard to break down, and they see if they can catch you on the counter.

“So all those things we can be very susceptible to and we can give up goals. The fact that we got a shutout against some very dangerous attacking players on the counter I think was a big step for us, and to grind out a Game 1-0, right? We haven’t done that all year. We haven’t shown the ability in a tight game to come out as the victor. So for me, that was a really important game for us, important for us to be in and important for us to get the result.”

The Red Bulls got the lone goal in the game against Chicago in the 58th minute, and it was on their only shot on net.

Bradley Wright-Phillips was coming down the right side, then passed it on the back of his heel to Lloyd Sam, who dropped it off to his left, where Mike Grella was, and Grella drilled it into the right corner to make it 1-0 Red Bulls.

Mike Grella celebrates his goal with Chris Duvall and Connor Lade (right, with wrap on his head). Photo by Mike Lawrence / Sportsday Wire.
Mike Grella celebrates his goal with Chris Duvall and Connor Lade (right, with wrap on his head). Photo by Mike Lawrence / Sportsday Wire.

Grella said of finally breaking through with the goal, “They made it difficult for us, credit to them, and we probed the whole first half looking for a chance and whether it was that our passing was a little off, or they were just so compact back there we just couldn’t get it right, you know – it seemed like we got balls wide and crossed them, and we only had two or three of us in the box and we were outnumbered. Nothing was really falling to us. So Jesse said at halftime a good way to get at them would be to pick one off somehow and suck them out, let them come out a little bit of their shell and maybe pick one off and that’s exactly what happened.”

Marsch said of the play that led to the goal, “Yeah, I mean, we felt that the way to find the goal was most likely going to be through a turnover. As much possession as we had, we still felt that if we could find a way to press them, if we lost the ball to go and win it right back and then play balls forward and go at them that that was when they’d be most unbalanced. Because anytime we got the ball and started to just play backwards or sideways, they got numbers behind the ball and made it very hard to break down.

“Lloyd made a very good play, got it into Brad, and that whole combination that set Mike up was a very good play. So it was good to see us be rewarded for what we thought we could be rewarded for.”

Red Bulls salute their fans after the win. Photo by Mike Lawrence / Sportsday Wire.
Red Bulls salute their fans after the win. Photo by Mike Lawrence / Sportsday Wire.

The Red Bulls back line of Aurelien Collin, Kemar Lawrence, Chris Duvall, and Connor Lade had a great game, and Marsch said of them, “Yeah, obviously one of the things is getting a clean sheet, and we haven’t done that much this year. Only one other time. There have been so many different contributors to the back line, and it’s been hard to create any kind of a rhythm, and now we had another game where we have a different back line than we had last week.

“So it’s been really hard in that sense. It’s been frustrating. We’ve had to grind through moments with different back lines and playing outside backs at center back and everything else. So the good news was Chris Duvall stepped up big tonight. And we thought it was going to be the kind of game that Chris would be effective in, a game that would involve counters and we’d need speed back there.

“So overall I thought Chris did really well. Aurélien competed and battled and did all the things we know he’s about. And I thought Connor was our best player on the night. His ability to shut down really good attacking players, the heart he shows, the ability he shows, the ability to shut guys down and get right back and provide an option with the ball. What do you say about a guy like that? It’s a pleasure to coach him. So overall I thought four good performances on the back line.”

Connor Lade had a tough game, as he took an elbow to the forehead that required his head to be wrapped and then a Chicago player crashed onto him after making a play on a ball.

Marsch said of Lade’s toughness, “You know, he’s different, but Chris Armas was a bit like that. Chris Armas was a guy who was up for every challenge, never backed down was a guy you could count on for every play, never took a play off. Was always battling through certain situations, winning his battles, winning almost every duel he was in. And they’re not exactly the same because I think that as great an engine as Chris had that Connor’s engine is probably even better.

“But I mean that’s obviously a great compliment to Connor to compare him to a guy like Chris Armas. But Connor’s a guy we know we can count on at any time. I always try to remind myself, and I said this last year, not to take him for granted because it’s easy to take a guy like that for granted because he’s always in it for his team, and to help his teammates be up for the challenge.

“But the reason I put him on the field tonight is I felt like we needed more of that on our team and we needed a performance like that, and he gave exactly what we thought he would.

“The other one I didn’t mention Kemar when I talked about the back line. But I thought Kemar did really well with the matchups. Did really well with making sure he was alert at all moments and nothing got away from him. Had great recovery runs, tackles, head balls in the box. Really great effort from the overall back line all together,” said Marsch.

The Red Bulls have taken points out of four of their last five games, with three wins and a draw, as they make their way back from their dismal 1-6 start.

Marsch said of seeing the season turning, “You know, I mean, this is — it’s not like all of a sudden we’ve become a bad team. I know it’s still got all the makings of a good team. It’s been challenged in a big way, right? And the key was to try to continue to force feed certain messages so that we could get ourselves over the hump.

“Now I don’t take anything for granted right now. We’re going to have to grind out a lot of games this year, a lot more than we did last year. But even when I go through last year, there were a lot of moments where, yeah, we had some quality and scored some goals, but we had to battle and fight and claw our way through every week and that’s what this league is. So the more that we can grasp that, the more that we can understand that, and the more we can put it out there on the field like we did tonight, the more results we’re going to get.”

Mike Grella left the game in the 73rd minute, and Marsch said of his status, “Yeah, so Mike just felt some hamstring tightness. I think he did a wise thing. He said he didn’t feel a pull, it just felt tight. So it could be anything from a cramp to a small little pull. So we’ll be hopeful that it’s in the cramp category and that we can put him recuperated and recovered and ready to go for Saturday. But we’ll have to just wait and see.”


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