When an opposing coach calls you “the gold standard in the East,” you know you’ve done something quite impressive.
Those were the words DC United coach Ben Olsen used to describe the Red Bulls after New York’s 3-0 resounding win Sunday at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls rebounded after their midweek slip-up in Chicago, as they annihilated the team currently sitting in first place in the Eastern Conference from start to finish. The victory moved the home side into second place in the East and two points behind DC with three games in hand.
“We put our foot on the gas pedal and went out to get [DC United] from the first minute,” Red Bulls midfielder Sacha Kljestansaid after the game. “We created a ton of chances. Probably had the most dominating performance we’ve had this season so it felt really good, but I think the key was just good mentality. [We] stuck to our game plan and really put them under pressure.”
Coming out of the block with their typical high-pressing, up-tempo game, the Red Bulls put DC United on its back foot early. Were it not for Bill Hamid’s heroics in the DC net, the Red Bulls would have blown the match wide open in the first 15 minutes, as they sent shot after shot towards Hamid.
But it wasn’t until the 33rd minute when they finally breached DC United’s defense. A deft little through ball from Bradley Wright-Phillips found an onrushing Lloyd Sam open on the right. The winger got New York on the board with a deft little chip over an extended Hamid and opened the floodgates for an evening both sides will long remember.
“It was so important to get [the goal],” Sam said after tallying his seventh goal this season and his third against DC United in 2015. “It settled us down and we went on to get more. Sometimes it just takes that first one to go in.”
Wright-Phillips would get his name on the scoresheet just nine minutes later. Mike Grella would set up BWP for his 12th of the season after taking a long Felipe pass down and firing a pass on the volley to Wright-Phillips. BWP then fired a rocket on the volley into the top corner past a helpless Hamid.
Wright-Phillips would later put the finishing touches on the match by adding his second goal of the night in the 64th minute.
While Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch was thrilled with the effort, he cautioned the media not to get too far ahead of itself. There will be no talk of Supporters’ Shield or first place just yet.
“It was another step forward,” Marsch said in his post-match press conference. “There’s a lot to play for at this moment and if we stop for a second, then we could slip. We’re going to keep our pedal on the floor.”
Perrinelle Solid in Return
After serving a two-match suspension, Damien Perrinelle was re-inserted in the starting lineup alongside Matt Miazga in central defense.
The 31-year-old French defender has struck up a solid partnership with the young American and the two players complement each other well. Miazga’s athleticism is harassed effectively alongside Perrinelle’s veteran savvy, something Miazga doesn’t take for granted.
“Obviously, Damien is an experienced player,” Miazga said. “For the majority of the season, we’ve been together and I think he covers me really well.”
BWP: Better in 2015?
Bradley Wright-Phillips may have set a Red Bulls franchise record by scoring 27 times last season, but his coach thinks he might be even more dangerous in 2015.
“He’s dynamic,” Marsch said. “I think he’s shown what a complete player he is. I would argue that he’s been much better this year than he was last year.”
Skeptics questioned whether Wright-Phillips could repeat his exploits without Thierry Henry by his side, but the Englishmen has thrived this season, tallying 13 goals and adding seven assists. The 31-year-old agreed with his coach’s assessment and said that assists were the biggest reason why.
“I’m coming off the pitch a lot happier than I was last season,” he said. “I feel like contributing to the team even if I’m not scoring. I feel like I’m trying to link up play and getting involved in the game more.”