By DAN KARELL
Although the New York Red Bulls picked up a hard-earned 2-1 victory over rival D.C. United on Saturday evening, not all was well in Red Bull land.
Tim Cahill, who scored the game-winning goal on a header in the first half, suffered an ankle injury inside ten minutes, and was eventually forced off in the 58th minute after gutting out his time on the field on one good ankle. Cahill was seen hobbling after the match in the locker room, said that the knock occurred just seconds before Lloyd Sam’s opener in the 8th minute, as D.C. United defender Dejan Jakovic upended Cahill in the box.
“When I knocked the ball (in the box), I planted my foot, (Jakovic) got my ankle and I rolled it, and that was it,” Cahill said. “I was struggling from then on. It happens, but you get on with it.”
The potential injury is bad news for Red Bulls fans, as Cahill just seemed to be returning to full fitness after missing two games in August due to a torn PCL. The 33-year-old is also set to join the Australian National Team for a friendly match against Brazil in Brasilia next Saturday, having been called into the squad.
“I might be traveling to Brazil, and I’ll have to see what happens (on Sunday). Shocking tackle, but there’s nothing I can do about it.”
Here are some more notes from after Saturday’s Red Bulls match:
SAM AND WRIGHT-PHILLIPS IMPRESS PETKE
Before Saturday’s match, the Red Bulls hadn’t scored a goal from a forward since Fabian Espindola scored in the club’s wild 3-2 road victory against Sporting Kansas City on August 3.
And after the lackluster performance from the team last Sunday at Chivas USA, Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke decided to make two changes up top in his lineup, moving Tim Cahill closer to goal, putting in Lloyd Sam at right wing while Eric Alexander moved in the middle, and giving Bradley Wright-Phillips his first start for the club.
Sam marked his rare start with the 8th minute goal, a deft chip over D.C. United’s Bill Hamid, and went on to play the full 90, while Wright-Phillips, still gaining match fitness, was substituted after 76 strong minutes that impressed Petke.
“I thought Lloyd did phenomenal,” Petke said following the match. “I thought we actually didn’t get him enough of the ball in the first half, but when he got it, he beat his man to provide quality crosses.
“Bradley did very well tonight, along with everybody. His timing on his runs were very good, his ball control with his back to goal, playing one and two touch, playing it off and spinning….it was good.”
CARNEY MAKES DEBUT FOR RED BULLS AT LEFT BACK
While Wright-Phillips was making his first start for the team, Australian left-sided player David Carney made his first appearance for the Red Bulls since signing on August 8, starting and playing the full 90 minutes.
It was Carney’s first official match in nearly 12 months, having dealt with a number of injuries after parting ways with Bunyodkor in Uzbekistan.
“Yeah it wasn’t too bad,” Carney said after the match. I’m happy to get a win. It was a hard game, especially getting one sent off, but all that matters was us getting the three points so it’s a good debut.”
Carney came away from his debut very impressed with the atmosphere provided by the fans in Red Bull Arena and the level of play in MLS, joining a number of former players in Europe currently in MLS, who have learned that the league has a higher standard of play than they thought.
“It’s fantastic, it was better than I thought,” Carney said. “Timmy (Cahill) said that the fans were great, you get a lot of full houses, they were singing the whole way through, so it was fantastic. We need their support coming into the end of the season.
“I feel like it was a bit like international football,” said the Australian veteran on the level of play in MLS. “It’s a bit slow but obviously it’s technical, you’ve got to keep it in certain places. I actually felt that the standard’s better than I thought.”
Petke confirmed after the match that he hadn’t intended to keep the 29-year-old on the entire game, but likely the red card to Ibrahim Sekagya in the second half as well as first-half injury to Brandon Barklage changed the coach’s plans.
Carney himself said that he’s still working his way back to full fitness, and played 60 minutes in a match last Tuesday before the 90 on Saturday, though he said he paced himself through the second half to keep from running out of gas.
What do you think of these notes? Do you see Cahill missing games again due to his ankle knock? How did you rate Sam’s and Wright-Phillips’ performances? What did you think of Carney’s debut?
Share your thoughts below.