Sunday, May 10, 2015

It Happened in America: The first Hudson River Derby goes to Red Bulls

Toronto FC 1-2 Houston Dynamo
A fairly bland first half was livened up when Michael Bradley committed one of the most obvious penalties you will ever see in the 43rd minute. Chris Konopka saved the initial penalty, but Boniek Garcia was able to follow up his shot and boot home the rebound. Houston controlled the first half, in general, which was quite shocking. First off, this is Toronto's home opener after starting the season with seven straight on the road. Second, Toronto is the better team.

Toronto's home opener party was ruined even further in the 53rd minute when Giles Barnes made a dazzling counter attacking run before picking out Will Bruin with a perfect pass. Bruin buried the goal with authority to double the Dynamo advantage. It took 77 minutes for Toronto to score their first goal in the newly revamped BMO Field. Jozy Altidore was quite wide open due to DeMarcus Beasley and Jermaine Taylor ball watching. That left the US international alone to head home a Jonathan Osorio cross.

Toronto would attack more, but failed to find any payoff despite a few close calls.

New York Red Bulls 2-1 New York City
The atmosphere of this one was fantastic. The noise level of both sets of supporters was turned up to 11 right from the start. The players certainly felt the energy as well. It was quite a chippy game as things got started.

The red half of New York was the first to rejoice, and it took less than four minutes. The suburban Red Bulls got the jump on their urban rivals when Bradley Wright-Phillips was unmarked by ball watching center backs for an easy tap in from a cross by Lloyd Sam. City thought they had equalized just before the 20 minute mark on a Pablo Alvarez free kick, but his target, Chris Wingert, was offside when he drilled the ball in.

Things weren't all great for Red Bulls though. Matt Miazga was shown his second yellow card in the 36th minute. It was a deserved second yellow. Khiry Shelton was behind the defense and Miazga trampled him down, making the decision easy to make. Being a man down didn't stop Red Bulls from having the better chances over the course of the last ten minutes of the half. It also didn't stop them from finding a second goal after halftime. Bradley Wright-Phillips found his second goal when City fell asleep in transition and he received the pass for an easy tap in.

For being a man up, I was rather unimpressed with City after the half. I expected them to come out with guns blazing, and they did. But their shots failed to hit any targets and they forgot to pay attention to counter attacks. City would have a few nice chances in the Red Bull end, but as soon as they lost possession, the game opened up and they were left scrambling to get back. Wright-Phillips almost had a hat trick had it not been for Josh Saunders getting in the way of his half-pitch breakaway or him not seeing Lloyd Sam with wide open goal to his right.

Shockingly, City looked infinitely better after David Villa was subbed off. They managed to finally pull one back in the 76th minute when Patrick Mullins connected with a great ball from RJ Allen. City was pressuring hard as the game came to a close, but they were still vulnerable to shockingly aggressive counter attacks from Red Bulls. Even in  stoppage time they were threatening to add a third with attacks in transition.

I'll tell you what, the quality of play might have been up to the usual MLS standard, but the atmosphere of this one was terrific. If every City vs. Red Bulls match is this bonkers in the seats, then I will make every one of these guys must see TV, even the return leg at Yankee Stadium's awful pitch.

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