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Drilling down on: at New York Red Bulls 2, San Jose Earthquakes 2

Apr 14, 2012, 10:04 PM EDT

Man of the Match: Rafael Baca had it easy on San Jose’s first goal, but looked at the running the 22-year-old did to put himself in position:

From that point on, Baca seemed like he was in the middle of everything. He completed a match-high 54 passes with a 83.1 percent success rate (overall match success rate: 76 percent).

Packaged for takeaway:

  • The hype around this match advertised shootout, and for one half, the two teams delivered. But the goals were less a function of great attacking than poor defending:
    • On the opening goal, Víctor Bernárdez got caught watching Kenny Cooper, while the entire San Jose defense seemed to lack urgency as Thierry Henry positioned himself to deliver the final ball.
    • On the second goal, Rafael Marquez decides to stop running with Baca, and Jan Gunnar Solli is nowhere to be found at the back post.
    • The third goal’s hard to pick apart, as a lot of left backs lose foot races with Dane Richards, but on San Jose’s second, Solli quit on the play early, seemingly assuming Steven Beitshour’s cross was destined to go out.
  • Unfortunately, this match is less likely to be remembered for the goals, more likely to be remembered for a series of Crimes and Misdemeanors:
  • Henry’s tackle seemed like an innocent mistake, Marquez’s incident reflects an respect issue, but Chavez’s speaks to a different issue. It’s the worst attempt at a challenge I’ve seen all year, one that harkens back to some other deplorable choices. MLS should come down hard.
  • Unfortunately, those three incidents had a greater influence on the second half than the goals. The excessive physicality stagnated play, and the final 45 minutes played out scoreless and choppy. That a player led the match with 54 completed passes speaks to the lack of fluidity.
  • There may have been more to the second half than two sides being wary. New York seemed like a bully that had been punched in the mouth. After easy wins over Colorado, Montreal and Columbus, the Red Bulls seemed tentative once they realized San Jose could hang with them.
  • And as prolific as New York’s attack can be, it’s hard to consider them on Sporting Kansas City’s level until they solve their defensive issues. For a team that seems to have one too many midfielder, I can’t help but wonder if the Red Bulls wouldn’t be better with Marquez in defense, if only until Wilman Conde returns.
  • On the same play that saw Salinas’s clavicle broken, Bernárdez was stretched from the field. Early word has the Honduran international suffering a sprained MCL.
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