Analysis : Red Bulls Defeat Union 2-0

Tonight’s match was a very difficult one to judge either club on.  The red on Derrick Jones will be the talking point for the Union, and perhaps rightfully so.  Jim Curtin said during his post-game press conference that “I don’t believe it’s a red card.  You know, Felipe is a guy we talked about all week in terms of a guy that can get under your skin and frustrate you…I think he baited the ref a little bit.  Made it look a lot worse than it was.”

Referee Allen Chapman had no doubts about his decision on the field, as the card was issued right away without any thought or consultation.  “You’d like to see the referee maybe pause, take a deep breath, think about it, and not just be so quick and excited to show the red,” Curtin said.  Union captain Haris Medunjanin also railed against the decision.  “I don’t even think he touched him,” Medunjanin said after the game.  “I think this kind of moment kills your game, and we are standing with zero points now.”

Despite all the positive words that Yaro and Epps received Wednesday night from Curtin, both remained on the bench.  Epps did come on for Pontius, but in a man down situation he found it difficult to make an impact.  Yaro, recently back from his injury, finds himself behind veteran Oguchi Onyewu, who put in a solid effort for most of the night.  Onyewu has been the surprise of the season, and his work alongside youngster Jack Elliot, will make it difficult for Yaro to break back into the lineup.

Gaddis and Fabinho were a grab-bag mix of solid defensive tackles and poor give aways.  Fabinho’s turnover in the 53’ directly led to the tackle by Jones that got him sent off.  Gaddis’ touch let him down numerous times on the offensive end, but he was solid enough defensively to limit damage for the most part until the inevitable Wright-Phillips goal that started on Gaddis’ side.

Haris Medunjanin had some nice crosses and through balls, but overall lacked the effectiveness and one-two play with Ilsinho, who himself struggled to get involved all night.  Medunjanin did give the Union a huge opportunity in the second half, a ball that just skipped past the outstretched foot of Onyewu.

Pontius and Picault were average at best in the first half, the only one you can truly judge them on based on how the red card changed the match.  Pontius was relatively quiet and missed a golden opportunity off a header in the closing minutes of the first half.  Picault at times seemed dangerous, as his speed was something Red Bulls right back Murillo had to keep in check.  He adds a dynamic the Union desperately need, a speedy winger who is both not afraid to take defenders on, and also is keen to finish on crosses coming from the opposite wing.

Sapong had a rough time against Aurelien Collin, who I picked as my player of the match.  Collin is known for his rough play, and his size was the perfect match to keep Sapong at bay.  If the Union were not down a man going into the final third of the game, I think bringing Simpson on for Pontius and moving C.J. out to the wing would have added an interesting dynamic for New York to figure out.  But that opportunity would never come and Sapong was rendered practically ineffective for 90 minutes.

Derrick Jones had a solid first half in a game that had a ton of midfield play.  His night will unfortunately be judged by a questionable red, and that tackle was the game changing moment.  In real time it looked like a solid professional tackle, and at first glance I thought it would have been an easy yellow.  The replay shows the decision for red may have been harsh, and Felipe is known as the type of player who loves the opportunity to influence that decision.

Blake made some solid saves on the night, including in the 38th against Muyl, and the huge amount of pressure put on in the minutes following the red.  But he was no match for either of Wright-Phillips goals, and truthfully can’t be faulted for either.  On a game where water breaks were needed during both halves, it was a terrible time to be a man down and by the time Wright-Phillips scored it just seemed an inevitability.

Michael Barycki

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