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Drilling down on: at New York 1, New England 0

Apr 28, 2012, 6:17 PM EDT

New England Revolution v New York Red Bulls Getty Images

Man of the Match: Red Bulls midfielder Dax McCarty responded when his team absolutely needed a couple of men to do so. He was a force in midfield, performing the screening role (in place of Rafa Marquez) about as flawlessly as anyone could. McCarty tackled clinically, interrupted passing lanes, kept the ball moving quickly and guided possession out of the back with clear-headed distribution.

Packaged for take-away:

  • Other weighty performances in the 1-0 win Saturday from a Red Bulls side that definitely needed them: goalkeeper Ryan Meara, who stamped his first career shutout, and right center back Markus Holgersson. This was easily Holgersson’s best match as he, for one, seemed to take last week’s defensive disaster personally.
  • It was a shooting gallery early, in and around Thierry Henry’s 7th minute goal. Kenny Cooper saw his deflected shot not miss narrowly. A few minutes later Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis did well to get one hand on Cooper’s knuckling drive. McCarty hit the post. Holgersson went just wide with a header. Even rookie Conor Lade crushed a long-range volley that had Reis worried momentarily.
  • Henry’s 23rd minute hamstring injury changed the game. And how. The Red Bulls, already up against it defensively, had little interest in attacking from there, beyond the counter attack. More on that later.
  • New York’s patchwork back line had a grand total of 12 MLS starts among the foursome.
  • One debuting professional, left center back Tyler Ruthven, may have been fortunate not to be sent off for his early foul on the breaking Jose Moreno.
  • Besides that controversial sequence, Moreno didn’t do much in his second start at striker for the Revs.
  • Revolution manager Jay Heaps wants to make midfielder Stephen McCarthy a center back; that’s where the second-year man has been playing lately. And McCarthy may indeed be a quality defender one day – but there will surely be growing pains along the way. McCarthy doesn’t yet possess the defender’s instincts, positional awareness or sense of anticipation. He got into trouble a couple of times Saturday, including on Henry’s early goal.
  • Revs striker Saer Sene made things happen when he got his big body turned and went motoring into the box. But the Revolution forward sure spends a lot of time moving back toward the midfield trying to link the play. Long story short, he needs to be closer to goal as much as possible.
  • Knowing that New York was sure to defend and counter after Henry’s injury, Heaps introduced Benny Feilhaber at halftime. The recently injured Revolution midfielder was effective in spurts, but far from his best. His weak, uncontested header late in the contest from 8 yards will be especially hard to watch when the team reviews video.
  • Red Bulls midfielder Victor Palsson clearly is not a wide midfielder. Asked to play out there as part of the personnel scramble, his crossing was atrocious. Again, in fairness, that’s not his spot.
  • Give us a nudge when the old Joel Lindpere finally shows up. (That said, Lindpere did a lot of important, defensive dirty work late Saturday.)
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