By: Milos Kosic
Not even twenty-five thousand fans in sold-out Red Bull Arena could help the New York Red Bulls to win against strong and well organized LA Galaxy.
With the crowd’s singing echoing through the stadium, Rafael Marquez practiced his crossing skills. Thierry Henry casually sent every ball he got straight into the net while Landon Donovan decided to have fun with his staff member by splashing them with water from his water-bottle. Even David Beckham seemed excited as he sat on the bench and spoke with his teammates. Everything seemed set for a spectacular game.[picappgallerysingle id=”9550601″]
But as soon as the match started, it turned into a slow tactical battle between the two coaches, with the ball mostly stuck in the midfield and too few good opportunities for fans to be pleased.
Red Bulls Head Coach Hans Backe decided to put Marquez in the midfield (instead of his more usual center-back position), and it seemed that the Mexican international would have been much more useful in the defense. After only ten minutes, with a few fast passes, LA Galaxy outplayed Red Bulls defense, and as the result, Galaxy’s striker Edson Buddle was left alone in front of the Red Bulls’ goalkeeper. Buddle doesn’t miss opportunities like this. Very calmly he forwarded the ball into the net, scoring his 13th goal of the season. The crowd was not discouraged by the early blow, but the situation almost became much worse when just two minutes later, Tristan Bowen shot was deflected.
The only response from Red Bulls in the first half came in the 46th minute, when Pablo Angel’s header hit the crossbar.
Red Bulls supporters expected that their team would enter the second half more aggressively, but it was LA Galaxy that dominated in the opening minutes. Their precise passing left the Red Bulls’ players unable to touch the ball at all.
In the 48th minute, LA Galaxy had a chance to double their lead. After some confusion in the defense, Donovan passed the ball to Buddle who failed to hit the target from seven yards.
The best opportunity for Red Bulls to tie came in the 72nd minute, and it was Angel again who shot on goal, but his header was blocked. The ball rebounded to Ream, but his shot was blocked at the goal-line by Greg Berhalter.
Marquez was substituted in the 70th minute. The Mexican’s performance was below expectations. His presence in the midfield was unnoticeable and his only contributions were a few good free-kicks.
As expected, Henry was a constant threat for the opposition. The French striker was very annoyed by the aggressiveness of LA Galaxy defenders. His irritation culminated in the middle of the first half when he ironically applauded after the referee finally called a foul.
Surprisingly, Head Coach Backe stated after the game that he was satisfied with his team’s performance. “We played rather relaxed and still created a number of chances.”
The next game Red Bulls play against Toronto FC, on August 21.