By DAN KARELL
Playing without Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill and, Jamison Olave for the first time this season, the New York Red Bulls had a match that they’d like to quickly forget.
Brandon Barklage earned a red card in the 73rd minute, and a make-shift defensive unit struggled all match long. Meanwhile, debutant Peguy Luyindula missed two point-blank chances on goal, before being substituted with ten minutes to go.
On Saturday, New York (0-2-2) failed to score for the second week in a row, falling 1-0 to the Montreal Impact (4-0-0) at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal. Marco Di Vaio scored the only goal for the hosts in the 13th minute, taking advantage of the lack of chemistry between the Red Bull’s back line.
Di Vaio snuck through center defenders Heath Pearce and Markus Holgersson, beating the offside trap, before collecting a pass from Patrice Bernier, and shooting low into Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles’ net. It was the only goal that the Canadian side would need on the night, though both sides came very close on many occasions.
“I think we fell asleep a couple of times and they made us pay,” Petke said after the match. “We’ve got four in the back versus one, and he [Di Vaio] gets through, so to me that’s something I have to go back and look at and figure out.”
Without the likes of Henry and Cahill on the field, the Red Bulls offensive struggles continued. The squad, playing on turf for the third time this season, never looked comfortable or settled into the match. The Red Bulls midfield were also outworked all game long by the four in the center for Montreal, including Devy Arnaud, Felipe Martins, Andres Romero, and the aforementioned Bernier.
Montreal was also missing a big piece of their lineup, playing for the first time this season without Alessandro Nesta in central defense. Impact academy graduate Karl Ouimette made his first career start, and alongside Mateo Ferrari, did very well to shut down the likes of Luyindula and Fabian Espindola.
“I was nervous… really nervous,” Ouimette said to the Montreal Impact. “I got goose bumps all over. But once you get your first touch, you get into the game. Then I won my first duel and it gave me confidence going forward.”
The defensive effort stretched the Red Bulls scoreless run to 253 minutes, going all the way back to the 17th minute of New York’s 2-1 loss at San Jose, when Eric Alexander scored the game’s opener. Both him and Jonny Steele started again on the wings, but failed to add any creative spark necessary to feed the Red Bull’s attack. In addition, Juninho and Dax McCarty in the center of the field never seemed to be on the same page.
“It’s a learning experience for us,” McCarty said. “We need to stay positive, try to work on some things, and try to get our first win.”
The Red Bulls certainly had their chances, especially on set pieces, making full use of Juninho’s talents on the pitch. Impact goalkeeper Troy Perkins made three big saves, including one in the 43rd minute on a low strike by Luyindula. Though he didn’t score in his debut, Petke was very positive about his first appearance in a Red Bulls shirt.
“I think eight out of ten times, he finishes one of those chances he had,” said Petke. “His movement off the ball was very good, defensively he was committing to the pressure, so it’s definitely something to build on.
“I think we saw the quality he has.”
Despite being flagged six times for offside, Di Vaio was very positive after the match about his performance.
“I felt good out there tonight,” Di Vaio said to the Montreal Impact website. “I feel like things are getting better for me every game and I reacted well in finding space when moving forward.”
What did you think of the match?
Share your thoughts below.