New York Soccer: Benny Feilhaber

RBNY Recap: Richards rallies Red Bulls to draw level vs. lowly Revs

August, 21, 2011
Even against the club with the most losses in the Eastern Conference, the Red Bulls can't win for losing.

So, New York will have to settle for their 14th draw of the season after salvaging a 2-2 result against the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts on Saturday. Dane Richards provided all of the Red Bulls offense by answering Revs forward Milton Caraglio's first-half brace with a second-half double that included a tap-in of a Joel Lindpere cross for an 87th-minute equalizer by the Jamaican midfielder.

Physicality prevailed as the in-game strategy in a match that saw 35 fouls and eight yellow cards issued by referee Juan Guzman. Revs forward Kenny Mansally gave New York a one-man advantage after the Gambian international received a red card in the 55th minute for accruing two yellow cards on tough fouls.

That advantage was short-lived as Red Bulls midfielder Teemu Tainio also saw red after receiving his second yellow card in 69th minute for a tough tackle from behind on Revs midfielder Shalrie Joseph. Both Mansally and Tainio receive automatic one-game suspensions for their respective red cards and will each miss their club's next regular season match.

The draw pushes New York (6-6-14, 32 pts) further away from the playoff picture as the Houston Dynamo (8-7-11, 35 pts) collected a win on Saturday to leapfrog the Red Bulls, a losing Philadelphia Union (8-6-10, 34 pts) side, and an idle Sporting Kansas City (8-7-9, 33 pts) tp lay claim on the Eastern Conference's second automatic playoff spot. Sporting KC will play Sunday evening at home against sixth-place D.C. United (7-6-10, 31 pts).

French Fried. New York announced shortly before the match that Thierry Henry was unavailable to play due to what the club described as inflammation in the French striker's left Achilles. The club announced via Twitter that Henry's Achilles flared up following Thursday's training session, leaving Red Bulls coach Hans Backe to rest his forward rather than risk further aggravation.

However, Henry has only played in one of New York's matches on turf this season while missing the club's last three opportunities due to absence against Vancouver, suspension at Seattle, and now injury at New England. The Red Bulls captain has made no secret of his disdain for FieldTurf after implying that the away stadium's playing surface might factor into his decision to play.

"Maybe I need to remind you even more,” Henry said to the NY Daily News on July 14. “I think it wasn’t stupid when I told you turf is one of the most severe things I’ve seen for us to play on."

Play of the Game: Richards's First Goal. When Tim Ream zipped a 40-yard lob deep into the Red Bulls' attacking end in the 53rd minute, it wasn't so much strategic as it was desperate. New York had looked flat to that point in the match courtesy of a defense that left one of the lowest-scoring sides in MLS with a two-goal lead at halftime and an offense that struggled to link any passes to the attackers.

However, Richards timed his run perfectly and sprinted behind the Revs back line to receive Ream's lob. The Jamaican international ran unimpeded to the penalty area before striking a right-footed shot past Revs backup 'keeper Bobby Shuttleworth and inside the near post to cut the New England lead to one goal.

It wasn't a sexy goal, but it was exactly what was needed by a Red Bulls club that had not seen an active player not named Henry, Lindpere, or Juan Agudelo score a goal since June 4. New York immediately took control of the run of play and pressed up against a Revs side that kept its shape but couldn't contain the onslaught. Mansally received his red card two minutes after Richards' goal, further fueling the Red Bulls attack until Tainio's sending off 14 minutes later.

Two. Not only is that how many goals Richards scored on Saturday, but it's also how many shots on target both he and the Red Bulls took on Saturday. New England managed a 13-to-8 edge in attempts on goal on Saturday, which accumulated for the Revs even after Mensally was sent off.

Meanwhile, New York's only two attempts after halftime came on Richards's goals, despite controlling the run of play for the majority of the final 30 minutes. New York admittedly lost a man for the final 20 minutes, but this was the same side that created 20 attempts on the struggling Fire side last week.

Bouna Bump. Senegalese shot stopper Bouna Coundoul was ready, willing, and able to stand between the pipes on Saturday and came up big with four saves including a spectacular diving stop in the 61st minute to parry a Benny Feilhaber shot from distance away from net. Coundoul wasn't perfect, but it's tough to hold him responsible for two goals in which his back line ultimately left him out to dry. It was as sharp a night as Coundoul could produce given the lethargy of the the Red Bulls defense in the first half.

We Gotta Get Out of This Place. Saturday's draw extends a winless streak for New York at Gillette Stadium that traces back to June 29, 2002 when the then MetroStars collected a 2-0 win over the Revs. New England has won 12 of their last 17 matches at home against the Red Bulls/MetroStars in regular season and MLS Cup play since New York last claimed victory against their Eastern Conference rival.

New York now heads home to prepare to gaze upon the many stars of the Los Angeles Galaxy including David Beckham, Landon Donovan, and L.A.'s newest acquisition in Irish striker and Tottenham legend Robbie Keane on Sunday, August 28 (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2, ESPN3).

W2W4: NY Red Bulls at NE Revolution

August, 20, 2011
Two original MLS sides renew old rivalries this weekend as the New York Red Bulls ship up to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts to face the New England Revolution on Saturday. New York claimed a rare victory in the first leg of their regular season encounters against New England at Red Bull Arena on June 10 after Thierry Henry deflected a shot off Revs defender Ryan Cochrane for an own goal and followed it with the game winner.

Wins have been hard to come by for a Red Bulls side that settled for a 2-2 draw against the rebuilding Chicago Fire last weekend at Red Bull Arena. Henry and Joel Lindpere had the first and last words respectively on the score sheet, but defensive miscues and poor communication allowed Ghanian forward Dominic Oduro and Argentinean midfielder Sebastian Grazzini to tally a first-half lead and leave New York chasing a draw rather than a much-needed win.

New England comes into Saturday's match with tired legs and spirits low after a stoppage-time strike by Bobby Boswell stole a draw for the visiting Houston Dynamo at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday. Despite an early Cochrane goal, the Revs played most of the match on the defensive as the Dynamo controlled the run of play for most of the match and tripled New England's shots on goal before Boswell netted the equalizer.

A D.C. United (7-6-10, 31 pts) draw on Thursday leaves New York (6-6-13, 31 pts) in fifth place in the Eastern Conference and with a tenuous grip on a postseason wild card berth. Houston (7-7-11, 32 pts) stands between the Red Bulls and third-place Sporting Kansas City (8-7-9, 33 pts) for an automatic playoff spot, while the Columbus Crew (10-7-7, 37 pts) and Philadelphia Union (8-5-10, 34 pts) face each other this weekend to establish Eastern Conference supremacy.

'Keep Out. New England will kick off against a potent Red Bulls attack this weekend without longtime 'keeper Matt Reis. Reis received a red card in Wednesday's match against the Dynamo during a stoppage-time scrum for what referee Michael Kennedy described as "use of offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures."

Bobby Shuttleworth will replace the suspended Reis on Saturday, but the 24-year-old shot stopper hasn't started a game since April and isn't heading into the match on the heels of one of the best goalkeeping performances of the season like Reis would have been before getting the heave-ho. If New York can continue the offensive momentum it created against Chicago, it could be a long night for the Revs' backup 'keeper.

Key Matchup: Marquez vs. Feilhaber. While Tim Ream and Roy Miller had the unfortunately distinction of being on camera when the Fire exposed their dysfunctional defensive efforts last Saturday, that did not leave Rafael Marquez above scrutiny.

The Mexican center back was just as out of position as the rest of his back line on those plays and others, inciting murmurs from critics that Marquez isn't rising to the expectations thrust upon a pricey designated player and looks uncomfortable since returning from the hamstring injury he endured during the Gold Cup finale.

If Marquez wants to restore his reputation, he can start by keeping the dynamic Benny Feilhaber at bay. The Revs attacking midfielder did not appear in the first leg of their regular season encounters with the Red Bulls due to international duty with the U.S. Men's National Team, but he'll be there on Saturday looking to create chaos in the box and replace the attacking contributions of injured Revs forward Rajko Lekic.

Keeping Feilhaber in check will involve active marking and frequent communication -- the two things Marquez and his back line were accused of failing to do against the Fire last Saturday.

The Big Hurt. Lekic's availability remains in question as he recovers from a fractured big toe on his right foot, but he's not the only one hurting for the Revs. Cochrane left Wednesday's match with what was described as "concussion symptoms" and will likely miss Saturday's match.

Meanwhile, Bouna Coundoul is expected to get the start in net for the Red Bulls in place of the injured Frank Rost. Jan Gunnar Solli will also miss Saturday's match as he recovers from a right quadriceps strain.

87. That's how many shots on goal taken by the Revs this season, which is the worst total in the league. They also score on a paltry 9.6% of their shots and 29.9% of all shots on goal, which ranks them 11th in MLS in both categories. This is not a recipe for attacking soccer.

Lucky Number Seven. New York's win over the Revs in June ended a seven-game winless streak. The Red Bulls now head into this weekend's matchup in Gillette Stadium with another seven-game winless streak in tow not counting the club's Emirates Cup appearances.

W2W4: NY Red Bulls v. NE Revolution

June, 10, 2011
A dysfunctional duo of Eastern Conference rivals will take the pitch on Friday evening as the New York Red Bulls welcome the New England Revolution to Red Bull Arena.

New York begrudgingly carries a six-game winless streak with them after Columbus Crew defender Rich Balchan finished a Justin Meram cross in stoppage time to steal a 1-1 draw against the home side. Mehdi Ballouchy provided early offense for the Red Bulls with a goal in the 9' minute, but later won the Goat of the Game designation after his errant backheel started the course of events which culminated in Balchan's goal.

If one club can empathize with the Red Bulls' plight, it's New England. The Revs bring a four-game losing streak to Red Bull Arena after conceding a 1-0 defeat to FC Dallas last Saturday at Pizza Hut Park. New England finds itself mired in an ongoing 274-minute scoreless streak and has netted only two goals in their last seven contests.

The Red Bulls' fourth consecutive draw and fifth in six games gives them a 4-2-7 record in 2011, which is good enough for 19 points and a one-point advantage over Columbus for second place in the Eastern Conference. They trail the first-place Philadelphia Union by two points.

Finding Their Fitness. While New York will continue to play without the quintet of players missing for Gold Cup duty, they should be able to lighten their burden on the injury report.

Right back Jan Gunnar Solli described the hamstring injury that forced him to leave last Saturday's match against the Crew as a minor one and believes he should be ready to play on Friday evening. Midfielder Teemu Tainio and defender Carlos Mendes also missed training sessions this week, but each are expected to be available against the Revolution.

Key Matchup: RBNY Back Line vs. Revs' Midfield. With Tim Ream and Rafael Marquez missing due to Cup duties, the Red Bulls have struggled to start attacks from the back line and build up counterattacks. The patchwork line should have ample opportunities to find form against a Revs' midfield that has struggled to provide any service to slumping NE forward Rajko Lekic. That should continue with midfielders Benny Feilhaber out due to an ankle injury and Marko Perovic out for the season after knee surgery.

Job one for the Red Bulls' back line is to perpetuate the mess that is the New England attack. Job two is to take advantage of miscues by the Revs to light a spark for a Red Bulls attack lacking cohesion.

Redemption Song. While Ballouchy curried little favor with fans for his late miscue, he was merely a symptom of a midfield that struggled to take control in the run of play against the Crew last week.

Some of that came about due to Solli's early exit, which effectively muted the right flank for the Red Bulls. That still does not excuse the lack of service to the forwards, who managed only three total shots and one Luke Rodgers shot on target.

Thierry Henry credited midfielder Austin da Luz as the best midfielder for the Red Bulls last week. If that pairing can pick up where the vaunted Red Bulls' diamond midfield left off, it could go a long way to fortifying the Red Bulls' attack during the Gold Cup tournament.

“It was his first game, and I wanted to keep it simple and safe, and I was happy to see him do it for 90 minutes,” Red Bulls coach Hans Backe said to about da Luz. “But I told him that when he should, he could go forward. His play earns another start.”

Clean Sheet Conga. New England will look to buck their anemic offensive trends that have kept them off the score sheet in six of their last nine matches. Not only will they need to navigate Red Bulls' defense to do it, but they will need to get it past Greg Sutton. The Canadian 'keeper has steered the Red Bulls through their current streak of four consecutive draws while allowing no more than two goals along the way.

Bouna Coundoul also returns from international duty after receiving Man of the Match honors by collecting a clean sheet for his native Senegal following a 0-0 draw against Cameroon in an African Cup of Nations qualifer last weekend. He will likely continue to serve as a backup 'keeper to Sutton.

Road to Ruin. The Revs have struggled mightily on the road this season, with a 0-4-2 away record in 2011 and a -9 goal differential highlighting those troubles. That should help the Red Bulls, who possess a 3-1-3 record at Red Bull Arena this season with a +6 goal differential. Before a 2-0 win at the end of the 2010 season, the Red Bulls endured a 14-game winless streak (0-8-6) to the Revs that stretched back to 2005.