Mar 16, 2013, 3:12 PM EDT
New York surely hates to be winless after three matches in 2013, especially since these are Mike Petke’s first matches as a head coach.
On the other hand, it’s should be hard to feel too badly about the performance in a 0-0 draw with D.C. United. The Red Bulls were absolutely dominant. They needed to be a little sharper inside United’s 18, but otherwise there was so much to like about how the team approached and executed in its home opener.
The Red Bulls outshot their visitors from down the coast, 24-5.
Man of the Match
Brandon Barklage’s stoppage-time header, saved wonderfully by DCU goalkeeper Bill Hamid, will be the next poster moment for goal-like technology. It was awfully close. Either way, it was a quick-reaction swat away that earned a point for his team, preserving the draw dramatically. That was one of six saves for United’s young goalkeeper. Oh, Hamid insists Barklage’s header never crossed the line: “No, it didn’t. I got there right before it went over.”
Threesome of knowledge: what we learned
- New York’s Olave is The Man
United’s attack was a mess all the way around Saturday, but when the visitors did manage to establish some possession, Jamison Olave was always in the way.
Olave is such a big fellow that it’s easy to forget how fast the Red Bulls commanding center back really is. (It’s that combo of speed and size, with the attached tenacity and smarts, that make Olave one of the league’s premier center backs.) That ability to close space quickly comes in handy for cleaning up messes, too, which we saw a lot of during Olave’s years at Rio Tinto with Real Salt Lake.
- Fabian Espindola is working out great
All three of New York’s trio of top attackers were feeling it Saturday. But it was Fabian Espindola who came so close to making the moment that mattered. Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill certainly helped, but the newest striking weapon around Red Bull Arena hit the crossbar twice, once on a very difficult and quite athletic twisting header, and once on a big blast that punctuated some tricky dribbling through two flummoxed United defenders.
Red Bull management’s choice to jettison Kenny Cooper and Sebastien Le Toux, effectively swapping out those two for Espindola, who was scooped up in a big trade with Real Salt Lake, is looking like a good one. He has more chemistry with Henry after three matches than Cooper or Le Toux ever developed over an entire season. (Well, half a season in Le Toux’s case … but same difference.)
- D.C. United passing in a word: yuk
DC just isn’t going to be the same with Saragosa in the lineup as with the more skillful John Thorrington, who is out for at least two months with a knee injury. Saragosa adds midfield bite, but he just doesn’t have the passing and receiving skill to operate smoothly alongside Perry Kitchen when United gets the ball.
Along with a defense that’s average at best in distribution, DCU struggled much of the day to get the ball into attacking positions. And without the ability to mount much attack, it was mostly defend, defend and defend all day for the visitors.
Packaged for take-away
- What is it about these two teams meeting at Red Bull Arena that makes it want to snow so badly? Flurries throughout the afternoon framed the NBC pictures nicely.
- New York’s Juninho has recovered well enough from a Week 1 injury to get back on the field, entering in the second half for Johnny Steele.
- Lionard Pajoy in his 70 minutes for DCU? Absolutely invisible.
- Dwayne De Rosario wasn’t seen much more; missing those first two matches due to suspension for a preseason incident seems to have left the former league MVP behind for now.
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