Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wake Up Call: Columbus 2 - 0 RBNY

RBNY won the last two matches they were expected to lose. Naturally, they lost the match they were favorites to win.Photo by mararieCreative Commons licenseIt's not so much the fact of Thierry Henry's absence from the lineup (Achilles' inflammation), or the lack of Tim Cahill (still rehabbing the knee Yordany Alvarez tried to obliterate), or even Mike Petke's banishment from the sideline (suspended for caring about Kosuke Kimura too much). Nor could it be blamed on Lloyd Sam's injury. Even if all those guys had been part of this game, RBNY would likely still have lost.Because this was the match following two extraordinary, gutsy, fortunate wins over good teams; the first match since ascending to the top of the Supporters' Shield table; against Columbus, a team on a three-game losing skid. So this was a match RBNY was expected to win, or at least draw; of course, they lost.The loss cannot be blamed on some MLS-standard delusional refereeing, even though that was very much a feature of this match. Referee Allen Chapman watched a typical set-piece scramble in the box and somehow picked out an RBNY foul. It was a bewildering decision, but gifting Columbus a go-ahead goal didn't cost New York the match. The match was lost because RBNY couldn't score a goal. Crosses were errant, passes too often missed their intended target, and shots were too few and too distant to worry Columbus. Change was required, but even New York's substitutions were baffling. Jonny Steele was just about the only RBNY player visibly committed to getting something out of the match, forcing a rare save out of Matt Lampson and even making a save of his own. But he was the first man off the pitch when Robin Fraser brought Marius Obekop on to chase the game.Andre Akpan soon followed Obekop into the game, arriving in place of the ineffective Peguy Luyindula. And ultimately, Ruben Bover came on for Eric Alexander. New York did have chances to equalize - but the difference between the teams was not effort, or energy, or even tactics. The difference was Federico Higuain.Higuain's second goal introduced class and invention to a game sorely lacking in both. As such, it deservedly brought his side three points. For New York, this result could be something of a blessing. It will serve as a reminder of the team's puzzling tendency to play predictable, muted football on the road. This tendency needs to be shed before the playoffs, and all the league's leading sides have been producing get-it-out-of-your-system disappointments recently. The New York Red Bulls are still in the Supporters' Shield race - now three points behind Real Salt Lake, and just a point behind Eastern-Conference-leading Kansas City. Losing to Columbus has not ended the season. If RBNY can channel the frustration arising from this result into a strong run through the remaining ten games of the year, we may yet want to thank the Crew for the wake-up call.Man of the Match: Federico Higuain - the best player on the pitch, who scored perhaps the best goal of this week in MLS. Red Bull of the Match: Jonny Steele - another can't-quit-won't-quit performance on the wing, unfortunately curtailed by his 70th-minute substitution.2013 Season: Game 24August 10th - Crew Stadium - Columbus, OHEvents:55' - YELLOW CARD - CLB: Will Trapp67' - YELLOW CARD - CLB: Dominic Oduro88' - YELLOW CARD - NY: Ibrahim Sekagya62' - GOAL - CLB: Federico Higuain (penalty)76' - GOAL - CLB: Federico Higuain (Will Trapp)New York Red Bulls: Luis Robles, Brandon Barklage, Jamison Olave, Markus Holgersson, Roy Miller, Eric Alexander (Ruben Bover 81'), Dax McCarty, Ibrahim Sekagya, Jonny Steele (Marius Obekop 70'), Fabian Espindola, Peguy Luyindula (Andre Akpan 71')Unused Subs: Ryan Meara, Matt Miazga, Connor Lade, Michael BustamanteColumbus Crew: Matt Lampson, Chad Barson, Josh Williams, Chad Marshall, Agustin Viana, Dominic Oduro, Will Trapp, Bernardo Anor, Justin Meram (Kevan George 81'), Federico Higuain (Tony Tchani 88'), Jairo Arrieta (Ethan Finlay 78')Unused Subs: Daniel Withrow, Ben Speas, Konrad Warzycha, Ryan FinleyReferee: Allen ChapmanAttendance: 19,080Follow @trctny for blog updates and occasional chat. 

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