New York Soccer: Real Madrid

'Lots of magic' as Ronaldo rocks Bronx

August, 9, 2012

Cristiano Ronaldo brought the world's "beautiful game" to a sellout crowd in the Bronx on Wednesday.

And he didn't disappoint.

Playing a friendly in front of 49,474 at Yankee Stadium, Ronaldo scored two goals and teammate Kaka added three assists in Real Madrid's 5-1 rout of AC Milan.

The game was part of the Herbalife World Football Challenge and was the second match played in the new Yankee Stadium. Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain played to a 1-all tie at the stadium in late July.

Stan Honda/Getty ImagesCristiano Ronaldo soared above the competition Wednesday.
The sellout crowd Wednesday gave the stadium a playoff-like atmosphere. And Ronaldo & Co. seemed to feed off it.

Said Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho: "There was lots of magic here, and I think we gave the stadium what it deserved.

"If I have this kind of crowd, this enthusiastic crowd in the Bernabeu [Real Madrid's home stadium], I don’t lose a match in the Bernabeu," the coach added. "Because these people were fantastic."

As was Ronaldo.

The 2008 FIFA Player of the Year's first tally came in the 49th minute. He collected a pass from Lass Diarra and knocked it past AC Milan keeper Christian Abbiati to give Madrid a 2-1 lead.

His second goal came in the 66th minute, when he received a beautiful pass from Kaka and scored on an uncontested shot.

After the tally, Ronaldo stood near the right-field stands, head held high, soaking in the applause from an adoring crowd. It was the kind of applause normally reserved for a Derek Jeter late-inning hit or a CC Sabathia strikeout.

"The fans, they give [Yankee Stadium] a special color," Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain said.

The stadium's field underwent an extensive overhaul for Wednesday's game. The Yankees' grounds crew started converting the diamond to a soccer pitch immediately after the Yanks' win over Toronto on Sunday.

And the pitch seemed to fit well inside the House That George Steinbrenner Built.

The end lines stretched from short right field to the left-center field wall on one side and from the right-field corner to about 20 feet in front of the Yankees' dugout on the other.

"A great field," is how one Real Madrid player described it.

And, on Wednesday, it belonged to Ronaldo, the main event in a game filled with stars.

Which is why Mourinho decided to keep his star player on the field for nearly 80 minutes.

"Historical stadium. Historical opponent. Full stadium. Great support," the coach said. "I think Cristiano is part of the show, part of what people want to see."

RONALDO WANTS KAKA TO STAY: Recent reports have stated that Real Madrid's Kaka is close to finding a new team.

The 30-year-old midfielder is largely a backup at Madrid and, according to reports, wants to return to Italy.

He did not address reporters after Wednesday's match.

But Ronaldo offered his opinion on Kaka's situation.

"I personally would like for Kaka to remain with the team. He is one of the top players in the world, and the top players need to be in Madrid," Ronaldo told Spanish-speaking reporters on Wednesday. "But that is Kaka's decision and we have to respect whether he chooses to stay or to go. ... But I believe he will stay."

RBNY Recap: Lack of scoring can't separate Red Bulls from Goats

July, 17, 2011
Unfortunately, the only thing the Red Bulls managed to score this weekend was the wrong opponent.

While La Liga legends Real Madrid manhandled the Los Angeles Galaxy across town at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, New York's scoreless streak extended to 181 minutes (or 271 minutes, if you count their poor showing in the US Open Cup quarterfinal) as they completed a scoreless draw against Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center on Saturday. New netminder Frank Rost did not accrue a save in his debut as the Goats failed to register a shot on target.

Chivas 'keeper Dan Kennedy did not exactly endure a barrage of shots, either. Joel Lindpere took the only shot on target for the Red Bulls in the first half, though New York created a bit more offensive pressure in the second half to no avail.

Saturday's draw temporarily gives New York (6-4-11, 29 pts) a one-point boost into first place in the Eastern Conference, though the Philadelphia Union (7-4-7, 28 pts) face the New England Revolution on Sunday evening.

Righteous Ref. There's an old saying that the best referees are invisible, which means you only notice them when they screw up a call.

That rule of thumb isn't fair to referee Mark Kadlecik and his crew, who showed great poise in the waning moments of the match. Carlos Mendes deflected a Chivas corner kick from a scrum in the Red Bulls' penalty area, only to have Kadlecik call him for a handball -- which would result in a penalty kick for the Goats in the 90th minute.

Kadlecik did not have the best view of the play and instead of going with his gut, he conferred with his assistant referee who had a better view and later overturned the call. (The replay showed the ball deflected off Mendes's shoulder.) So if you're devious enough to criticize the refs for every misstep, you should also be gracious enough to tip your cap when they get one right.

Play of the Game: Tainio's Exit. The Red Bulls largely crumbled under the Chivas pressure for the first two-thirds of Saturday's match.

When Teemu Tainio and Jan Gunnar Solli finally completed a pair of lateral passes across the length of the pitch, it broke the Chivas pressure and opened up the Red Bulls attack. Thierry Henry, Juan Agudelo, and even Roy Miller logged shots on target shortly thereafter while a Tainio miss in the 82nd minute started to show why the Goats relinquished goals after the 80th minute in three of their past five matches.

Moments later, Red Bulls coach Hans Backe substituted out Tainio for Mehdi Ballouchy, who added little to the Red Bulls attack. Agudelo logged one more shot in stoppage time, but the change in tempo was notable. Backe's curious decision to send his first substitute in the 84th minute had stifled the attack he intended to support.

It's Miller Time. After battling through a few games where he turned over the ball as much as he passed it, Roy Miller played as effective a game as you'll see all season. He completed 67 passes from the left flank while losing possession 14 times, which bettered all but Mendes with that ratio on Saturday. The Red Bulls possession game was thrust upon him, and he didn't wilt under the pressure.

Eight. That's how many of New York's 11 draws have come on the road this season. The have logged seven of those eight ties since their only road win in 2011 against D.C. United on April 21.

In and Out. Before the Red Bulls kicked off against the Rojiblancos on Saturday, they passed along two pieces of player info regarding Agudelo and Canadian 'keeper Greg Sutton.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced his two picks for the 2011 AT&T MLS All-Star Game on Saturday afternoon, with Agudelo receiving the honor along with Sporting forward Omar Bravo.

Later in the afternoon, the Red Bulls finally resolved their extraneous goalkeeper situation by loaning Sutton to the NASL's Montreal Impact for the remainder of this season.

New York has another large hill to climb as they prepare for the return match against the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Wednesday. First kick is scheduled for 9:30 p.m.